DO THE HOKEY POKEY by Alison McDonough


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 9 - 11
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A shy fifth-grader has a hard-enough time getting by in his new school on his own, but his mother's new career as an events DJ threatens to undermine what little respect he may have earned from his classmates. Brendan Breen (one of his mother's many faults is a penchant for alliterative names) knows that his mother's appearance at the school's Music and Munchies Night will ruin his life forever, but none of his plans to prevent it work: his aunt refuses to feign a deathly illness on the day of the event; his mother rejects his suggestion that she use a different name; and she is downright offended when he brings home a wig so she will be unrecognizable. Predictably, Music and Munchies Night is an unqualified success, and Brendan even survives—and enjoys—doing the hokey-pokey. Wound around this plot is Brendan's slow integration into the classroom culture via a group project, and his ultimate discovery that he himself is something of a showman. Newcomer McDonough has crafted a comfortable, if thoroughly predictable, tale about fitting in, presenting a world in which the worst possible thing that can happen is embarrassment. The book seems unsure of its audience: Urbanovic's spot black-and-white cartoons are very young-looking and pigeonhole it squarely for younger readers, but the font size and relative denseness of text make it look older and somewhat more forbidding than the average early chapter book. There are some mildly amusing moments, but this ultimately superficial story does nothing particularly new. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8126-2699-0
Page count: 120pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2001


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