From School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Hokey Pokey is a place where children live and rule themselves, riding bicycles like horses, watching cartoons on huge outdoor screens, throwing tantrums and getting hugged, all without an adult in sight. Their lives are almost pure joy as they dance the eponymous dance, savor the eponymous frozen treat, and listen to The Story of the Kid through little shells they carry in their pockets. Jack is their hero and ringleader, dealing with bully Harold the Destroyer, teaching Kiki lessons in sports and Lopez lessons in life, until the day things begin to change. Jack wakes to find that his beloved bike, Scramjet, has been commandeered by Jubilee, whom he despises because she's a girl. Answering his Tarzan cry of despair, Amigos LaJo and Dusty race to his side and notice before he does that Jack's stomach tattoo, given to all children once they're out of diapers, is starting to disappear. Fighting against the realization that Jack is going to leave them, they lure him into one last bike roundup, roping him and tying him down until Jubilee releases him, recognizing that he cannot resist the pull away from all of them toward the Forbidden Hut and the Train, and into The Story.
Using elements of myth, allegory, fantasy, and not-quite science fiction, Spinelli has skillfully combined a stream-of-consciousness narrative with delicious inventive language to create a vivid, dreamlike world. This unforgettable coming-of-age story will resonate with tween readers and take its rightful place beside the author's Maniac Magee (Little, Brown, 1990) and Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998).-Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 1, 2013: "This unforgettable coming-of-age story will resonate with tween readers and take its rightful place beside the author’s Maniac Magee and Louis Sachar's Holes."
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2012: "A masterful, bittersweet recognition of coming-of-age."