cover image The Hokey Pokey

The Hokey Pokey

Sheila Hamanaka, Charles P. Macak, Larry La Prise. Simon & Schuster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80519-6

Getting up close and personal with pictures of kids who put their right foot/ left arm/ right elbow in and shake it all about, Hamanaka (Peace Crane) puts her whole self into illustrating the classic party song. Taking the lyrics as her text, she gives the song star treatment, using gaily checked borders and spotlit crowds of multiethnic dancing children to create a festive atmosphere. There's even a dancer in a wheelchair, as well as a few friendly pets for added entertainment value. Aided by quick-cut perspectives and tilting lines of type, the pages pulse with energy. Even so, there doesn't seem to be much point to this exercise: while Hamanaka's paintings are exuberant, they add little if anything to a child's own experience of ""The Hokey Pokey""; most kids already know ""what it's all about."" It's also hard to imagine that kids might prefer a vicarious version of the dance to throwing themselves into it. If this book is for anyone, perhaps it's best for someone looking for a rousing finale to a story hour-and someone who doesn't mind if the reading combusts early on into a spontaneous explosion of dance. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)