If childhood were a place….
In the adultless land of Hokey Pokey, a dry, sandy environment reminiscent of the Southwest, children arrive when they’ve outgrown diapers and receive a ticklish tattoo of an eye on their abdomens. At midday they line up for a serving of hokey pokey, an ice treat in any flavor imaginable. The rest of their day is spent playing, watching a giant television with nonstop cartoons or riding bicycles, which are horselike creatures that roll in herds and can buck their owners off at will. In this inventive, modern fable, Jack awakens with a bad feeling that’s realized when his legendary Scramjet bike is stolen by Jubilee, a girl no less, and his tattoo has started to fade. As he searches for his bike and the reason why “[t]he world is rushing at him, confusing him, alarming him,” he recalls The Story about The Kid who grew up and hinted at tomorrow, an unrecognizable place to children. With nods to J.M. Barrie, Dr. Seuss and Philip Pullman, Newbery Medalist Spinelli crafts stunning turns of phrase as Jack “unfunks” and tries to “dehappen” the day’s events. While reluctantly accepting his growing up, Jack brings Hokey Pokey’s bully to justice, suddenly finds Jubilee an interesting companion and prepares his Amigos for his imminent departure.
A masterful, bittersweet recognition of coming-of-age. (Fiction. 10-13, adult)