Written by Elizabeth Bluemle, Illustrated by Randy Cecil
Candlewick Press, 2009
Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka –
Say “HEY!” to your neighbors up and down the blocka
The plot in a nutshell: Kids share the ways they wokka-wokka.
The main character boy and his cat head out with a dance in their step. They meet up with a girl and ask her how she wokka-wokkas and she shows them how she dances like a flamingo. She joins the boy and they pose the question to another boy, who wokkas like a mariachi, shaking maracas. The three of them do their own dances together and invite others to join them. A boy with a basketball moves like a clock and a girl jumping rope flops around like a fish. All the kids wokka-wokka together and it turns into a block party, with everyone dancing together.
Author Elizabeth Bluemle dedicates this book to her nephew, who was its inspiration. He apparently started asking the family how to wokka-wokka and since they didn’t know what he meant, they answered him with dance moves. Ms. Bluemle sets her dance stage on an inner city street, with a diverse group of kids who are having a swell time showcasing their individual moves.
Randy Cecil’s oil painting illustrations give us a sense of the neighborhood and all the kids who live there, with lots of trademarks of a classic inner city suburb, including a street full of taxis, high-rise buildings, concrete stoops, food vendors in the street and even pigeons. Young kids will probably enjoy finding the orange cat that shows up on every page. The rhyme has a funky eclectic meter to it that may make it a little bit challenging for some readers. I found it to be good silly fun, but then I make up dances on a regular basis, so you have to take my opinion with a grain of wokka salt.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that however you wokka-wokka, I hope you do it happily and often.