By Jerry Spinelli
Published 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
It all starts when the girl steals Jack's beloved bike, Scramjet, and soon nothing in Hokey Pokey seems quite the same. At least for Jack. As he begins to see things differently, he wonders what it means for his time left in Hokey Pokey and what exactly he should do about it.
All right, for the most part, I love Jerry Spinelli - I adored Maniac Magee when I was younger (keep meaning to revisit it - someday!) and have loved most of the novels of his I've read since then. It sort of amazes me that he's still writing books, though I don't know why it should. I was delighted last year to discover Jake and Lily, which I thought was a great portrait of siblings. So, I was once again excited to find out he was publishing another new book this year. I have to admit, I'm not sure what to say about this one, though. You see, this is a very interesting book, not what I've come to expect from Spinelli and, while I appreciate the trying of new things, I was not enjoying this book at all when I started. As a matter of fact, I found the book rather tedious for probably the first half. Then I decided to just let my expectations go and read, see what I would discover. I won't say I loved the book after that point, but it was definitely easier to read once I stopped fighting against its uniqueness. I don't want to give it all away but I have to say this - what changed this book for me was the ending. You see, dear reader, this ending sucker-punched me. It brought the whole book together for me, changed the way I thought about it all, and made me want to turn right back to page one and read it again, this time knowing the secret. This book is, amazingly enough, already getting Newbery buzz (yes, the awards were just announced last week - we're talking about the ones that'll be announced in 2014) and I will be very interested to see this one being discussed around the awards blogs. I have a feeling it'll be a very black or white book - you'll either love it or hate it. For me, the ending clinched it - I'll never doubt Spinelli again.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.