Jack is one of the oldest kids in a make believe land called Hokey Pokey. In this magical place, where only children romp and play, no adults to supervise, only machines, playgrounds and toys. Jack adores his life, his best friends "The Three Amigos", his bike Scramjet and playing until he drops from exhaustion. Hokey Pokey is a special place where boys hate girls and kids move from one form entertainment onto the next. Sometimes they might play catch, other times they pass the time watching cartoons for hours at a time on a big screen tv. Its a crazy fun place where young ones have no rules, no responsibilites and no worries. Until on day, Jack wakes up, knows something is wrong and finds EVERYTHING has changed.
FROM GOODREADS: "When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead. He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren. Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his book Maniac Magee. After his high school football team won a big game, his classmates ran cheering through the streets — all except Spinelli, who went home and wrote a poem about the victory. When his poem was published in the local paper, Spinelli decided to become a writer instead of a major-league shortstop.
In most of his books, Spinelli writes about events and feelings from his own childhood. He also gets a lot of material from his seven adventurous kids! Spinelli and his wife, Eileen, also a children's book author, live in Pennsylvania."
SETTING PACE AND STYLE
This story unfolds in a magical, made up world called Hokey Pokey. Writing is complex, poetic and written in a fairy tale like manor. At times it was downright confusing. Possessing advanced vocabulary and complex language, this book would be most suitable for adults and advanced readers. The entire story is an analogy, a parable about growing up or coming of age. Its told in a third person narrative from the perspective of Jack, the main character.
CHARACTERS AND PLOT
Hokey Pokey is far more of a plot driven story, than a character driven one. Being written in third person doesn't help, either. The emphasis of this book revolves around coming of age, growing up and becoming responsible. The world building, fantasy setting and characters all seemed to reflect these themes. Ideas of who Jack, the main character was before the story began were slowly revealed as the story progressed. We slowly discover bits of information about him along the way, like who his best friends were, what he used to do, who his enemies were and the legend that he had become in this make believe land. However, the side characters were never really explored outside of their relationship to Jack, himself. I don't really feel like I knew anyone, with the exception of Jack on a more personal level and I even left not really feeling like I knew his true self either. Maybe it was because he hadn't really figured it out himself, yet?
I recommend this book to adults and advanced readers who can appreciated complex, poetic reads. Readers who like magical places, stories about growing up and writers with impressive imaginations should get plenty of enjoyment from this story. It would also be the perfect book for book clubs looking for a book to spur great discussions or educators wanting a tool to teach creative writing, analogies or parables to students.
Perplexing read. Its meant for younger audiences. I'm not certain the intended audience will appreciate this book as much as advanced readers or adults will. It actually reminded me a lot of required high school reading. This is a coming of age story told through an analogy. The primary theme would be along the lines of "children live in there own little world". The world Spinelli creates is totally spellbounding. Children run rampant, can indulge in private hugs from the snuggler - when they feel the need, play in the Hippodrome, watch cartoons on a big screen tv for ridiculous amounts of time. However, like all great things in life, it all must eventually come to an end. What readers encounter in this book is how one young person, Jack, comes to terms with leaving Hokey Pokey, thus growing up. The ending left me still wanting more. I wish this book had been a bit longer. It would have worked well with two parts. Part one: Jack's life in Hokey Pokey and Part two: Jack's life and how it changes once he leaves.
Overall, I felt the book to be well written, thought provolking, but also slightly complex and confusing too. Initially, I seriously struggled grasping what all was taking place. I was nearly finished with the book when it finally dawned on me what the story wanted to tell me. The writing was beautiful, very metaphoric with lots of beautiful, delicate language. I definitely think this is a book which could be read more than once to get the most benefit out of it's complexities.
This is a difficult book to rate, I enjoyed the writing, the depth and the story, though it felt a little bit short and rushed towards the ending. In addition, I don't think it was the best fit for the target audience - Middle Grade. The writing seemed too advanced, it was a confusing story and took me until almost the very end to understand the big picture. I just don't think the majority of middle grade students will have the patience needed to truly appreciate the hidden beauty this one.
3.5 out of 5 Rings (Very Good - Kept me Flipping Pages)