Monday, December 3, 2012

A Winner -- and Hokey Pokey MMGM-style

First, I have a winner to announce.  According to random.org, the winner of the paperback of SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is:


Jennifer Rumberger


Congrats, Jennifer, and expect an email from me asking for your address!  

Now on to today's book recommendation:



Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli (coming January 8, 2013 from Knopf, for ages 10 and up)

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis: Jack wakes up one morning and everything is different. His beloved bike, Scramjet, is gone. Stolen by The Girl, Jubilee.

Without his bike, nothing feels right to Jack.

In Hokey Pokey, Spinelli has imagined a world where childhood is a place, not a time. It's like one huge funscape. (Note that the map wasn't in the arc, so I can't wait to see the finished book!) There's an actual Playground, but also the Jungle, the Great Plains, Tantrums, Snuggle Stop (because Spinelli wisely realizes every kid needs a hug in the dark), Thousand Puddles, Cartoons, a Doll Farm, Trucks, The Forbidden Hut, the giant statue of The Kid, and much more. There are no grownups except the Hokey Pokey man, who arrives to hand out shaved ice treats every day at noon, when the sun is high in the sky. Any flavor you imagine is available.

It never rains in Hokey Pokey (yet those Thousand Puddles are always there, and one of the four Rules states, "Never pass a puddle without stomping in it."). A kid grows from a Newbie, just out of diapers, to a Snotsipper, then a Gappergum, a Sillynilly, a Longspitter, a Groundhog chaser, and finally a Big Kid. Jack's a Big Kid, and something is off today. He can't quite put his finger on it, but games aren't as much fun, and he keeps hearing a train whistle that no one else hears.

In Hokey Pokey, bikes are wild mustangs roaming the Great Plains. Scramjet was the most powerful black and silver stallion of all and Jack tamed him. But now Jubilee is riding Scramjet. She even had the gall to paint him yellow and girl him up with pink handlebars and pom-poms.

His best friends, Dusty and LaJo, help Jack look for the bike, but they also notice something different about him. As the day wears on, it's not the bike Jack thinks about, but that faraway train whistle.


Interestingly, this is the advanced reading copy cover - and I prefer this one!


Why I liked it: Filled with inventive wordplay, this is a nostalgic look at an ideal childhood spent mostly outdoors, where distance is measured in spit lengths or frog flings. Where every kid has a bike, a cap gun and a slingshot. Where cartoons play all day long on a giant screen, yet there are no computers or video games.  This is all bittersweet because it's also about growing up and leaving.

This isn't everyone's childhood, but Jerry Spinelli does an excellent job of convincing you this is what childhood feels like. This is what it's about. Or perhaps what it should be about. 

Does anyone play outside anymore?

What would you add to Hokey Pokey? I'd include a huge library where every book you want to look at is always available. Sure, I spent my share of childhood outdoors, climbing trees and running races and playing King of the Hill, but I also remember many happy hours spent reading. And before I could read, I followed my mother around with a book in my hands and begged, "Read this to me?" That's the one thing I think is missing here. (Instead, in Spinelli's inventive world every kid carries a walnut shell. When held to your ear, the shell tells you The Story, but it's the same story every night. The story of The Kid. As beautiful as that is, I would want different stories every day.)

I'm sure my sons would add a video game area. What about you?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. She has all the links, or you can check out my sidebar.

19 comments:

  1. Hey hey! I would add a travelling library tree house. It would be a twig in your pocket. When you remove it and put it on the ground...BAM. Tree with treehouse and filled with books--sigh.

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    1. That's brilliant, Deb! I love your imagination. Spinelli's Hokey Pokey is definitely missing a tree house... and a tree house that's a library and can be carried in your pocket - wow! I'm impressed.

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  2. What an interesting look at childhood.

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  3. I would add edible finger paints in all kinds of interesting colors and flovors. This sounds like a terrific book. I just ordered it up.

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    1. Hi Rosi! Edible finger paints -- great idea!

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    1. Hi Natalie! I suspect most of us readers would want a library of some kind.

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  5. I hadn't heard of this book and look forward to reading it, so thank you for sharing. : ) All I remember about my childhood is playing outside. I'd like to relive that through a book!

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    1. Hi Melissa. Glad to hear you remember playing outside. Hope today's kids do that too.

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  6. I love me some Spinelli...this is a must read...I prefer the first cover...funny how people have different taste. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Anita. Thanks for stopping by. That's great that you love the first cover -- because that's the final.

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  7. Sounds truly unique--I can't predict if I'd like it or not but since I've loved everything else I've read by J. Spinelli, I'd give it a shot. I'd throw in a huge art station with pointy new crayons. btw, my kids play outside almost every day.

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    1. Great idea, Susan. Spinelli does include a station called Stuff, which is where Jubilee got the yellow paint for the bike. Don't think he mentioned crayons, though.

      Sooo glad to hear your kids play outside!

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  8. Have to say that I really did not like this. Just can't see it being something the students want to read, maybe because they aren't nostalgic for childhood yet.

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    1. Hi Karen! I thought of that, of course. It appealed to me because I'm a heck of a lot older than the average middle grade reader. But I also admired the writing itself, and the way he played with language. I think that's universal.

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  9. I got an eArc of this but then my eReader broke! I'm so excited to read it though. I might cave and read it on the iPad.

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.