Spinelli, J. (2013). Hokey Pokey. NY: Random House.
*Young-YA or YA or New Adult or Adult / Fantasy
*ARC provided by Random House Children's book via NetGalley -- thank you!
*QuickNEasy, 304 pages, Ages 10-14? Over 30?
*I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
In case you can't tell from my notations above, I am just not sure what to think or do about this book. I had a hard time getting into it and the place called Hokey Pokey but perhaps it's because I'm too far removed from childhood. In any case, I am glad I stuck with it and would recommend it to others. . . maybe. depending. . .
The book is a quick and easy read, and it's written in elementary language; however, I am not sure if anyone who's either still a child or freshly out of those carefree days will want to read it. They probably don't yearn for the lost days of childhood like those who have serious distance from it. It would probably be confusing to a younger audience, but by the same token, a younger reader might actually experience suspense and mystery in the book. As an adult reading it, the ending was pretty predictable and the literary tools obvious.
The descriptions of Hokey Pokey -- a child's world -- are very detailed and the creative, made-up words the kids use are perfect. So, from a writing perspective, this would be a great example of rich words to create a certain feeling and mood. It is easy to imagine herds of bicycles like horses, and monsters floating above a dreaming child. Hokey Pokey is familiar and safe.
There are layers of meaning in the story, some much deeper than others, but the real struggle for me is who is the intended audience. It's clearly not for everyone. Who would I gift this book to? Just not sure.
On the Clean-O-Meter scale, it's a near perfect 10 out of 10. No sex, no vulgar words (though there's some pretty amusing name-calling), no violence. Subject matter is safe.
Of course, I have to nit-pick. . .
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If kids have grown-up and disappear on a regular basis, why doesn't anyone in Hokey Pokey remember them? I needed a flashback chapter of the remaining two amigos, for example, to see if their life was going on as if Jack never existed (will no one remember there were three amigos yesterday??) or if they were mourning or dealing with it somehow.
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