“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Friday, September 18, 2009

How Do You Wokka-Wokka? • Picture book

How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
Written by Elizabeth Bluemle • Illustrated by Randy Cecil • August 2009 • Candlewick Press • Picture book
Say "HEY!" to your neighbors and get your dance on! Jazzy rhythms, silly rhymes, and welcoming images are guaranteed to entice little readers.
Story: Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka. Wokka what? Wokka-wokka! It’s about movement. It’s about dance. It’s about shimmy-shakin’, be-boppin’, and more! It’s about gathering friends and joining the party. The creative team behind MY FATHER THE DOG returns with a call-and-response for preschoolers, an exuberant invitation to be part of the fun – and show your stuff!
“Infectious… This bouncy book is a joy as a read-aloud whether in a group or one-on-one, and kids and adults won’t be able to resist making their own nonsense rhymes and dances as they “wokka-wokka” through the book.” School Library Journal, starred review
Story behind the story: The book was inspired by Elizabeth’s nephew Will. Little Will, then just 2-years-old, asked his family the classic zen kōan, “How do you wokka-wokka?” And though they knew the sound of one hand clapping, they had no idea what he meant, so they made up silly dance moves. “There was the seed of something really wonderful in that question,” said Elizabeth. “And several years later, my memories of summer block parties in New York City collided with the joyful dances my nephew inspired, and this book was born.”
FYI: all of the review copies have been sent; please check back to read what your colleagues have to say!


Peaceful Reader said...

This looks like such a fun read; sad I missed getting a copy!

Mrs. Horne said...

Me too.... :(

juli said...

Can't wait to see this book-it looks so fun! Wish I could have received a copy.

Sarah O. said...

How Do You Wokka Wokka? is a beautifully illustrated, hip-hoppy book about the different ways people "wokka-wokka".

My children and I read this book before nap-time today. They seemed to enjoy it, even at 3 years old and 1 1/2 years old. We liked it so much that we read it twice (and really we needed to read it again in order to get the rhythm). My 3-year-old enjoyed the fun words, rhythm and the illustrations, while my 1 year old enjoyed the sounds.

I enjoyed to book for all of the aspects my children enjoyed it.

I give it a 5 out of 5.

Sarah Oyerinde

Mother of (almost) 3 children (one is on the way)

Aspiring secondary English language arts teacher

Marion, Indiana

Mrs. Horne said...

This book really is cute - it has a tempo that it takes more than one read to master, but it is cute.

I have a 17 month old who just likes flipping pages but he actually got into it as I was reading it.

I like the message - there are many ways to "wokka" and each person or group of people do it differently.

Very neat concept for a picture book!

Picnic Basket rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Barbara said...

A fun, begs-to-be-read-out-loud book. In middle school, I'll use this with my sudents with a poetry writing unit. We will read the book and then use the format as a model for individual responses to the question "How do YOU wokka-wokka?" We might even add some illustrations.

Rating: 3.5

Amy said...

Excellent for reading aloud, HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA? talks about the differences in how people "wokka". The sing-song rhythm and silly words will be a delight to young children. I loved reading how the author, Elizabeth Bluemle, came up with this story, based on a question posed by her two year old nephew. The illustrations by Randy Cecil complement the story perfectly.

5 out of 5
A. Parker
Elementary Librarian
Houston, Texas

Julie P. said...

HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA? by Elizabeth Bluemle and illustrated by Randy Cecil is a delightful book for preschooler and kindergartners. Since Booking Son is the ideal age for the book, I was very excited to read it to him yesterday afternoon. I definitely enjoyed reading this fun book, and I liked the message about just jumping in and doing the wokka-wokka with all your neighbors.

While Booking Son liked the book, he didn't go so far as to say that he loved it. When I asked him some questions about it, he said that the thought the book was silly -- I think that was the intent! He also said that he liked some of the crazy, mixed-up words and that I sounded funny when I read it. I asked him if he liked to wokka-wokka, and he just kind of shrugged. I thought that was ironic because he often times copies his older sister while she does her hip-hop dances!

Besides the cute story with the catchy rhythms, I also liked the appearance of the book. I thought the illustrations were very cute, and I loved how the illustrator managed to capture the essence of the fun times with the drawings of the kids. I also really liked the large font and the way the words curved around the pictures.

As a mother, I really appreciated the message in this story. I'm not sure my son picked up on it the first time we read it, but I like that kids will see that it's okay to just wokka-wokka -- by that I mean, it's okay to be yourself and let your personality shine. Another terrific thing about this book was that the story took place in an urban environment and the kids were of diverse ethnic backgrounds. I appreciated that the story showed a bunch of different people coming together, letting loose and just having fun.

I recommend HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA? for preschoolers, especially as a read-aloud book during story time. I think catchy jazz-like phrases and the message that you can show your individuality will appeal to many youngsters as well as adults.

Rating: 4/5

EShay said...

How Do You Wokka-Wokka had a great message. The pictures were cute and entertaining, but it just didn't strike me quite right. I found it a bit awkward when I first read it. It would be good to use with poetry or teaching kids about individuality.

I give it a 4.

Susan Mello said...

This book is simply about having fun. The illustrations in this book show inner city children just playing, dancing, and having fun. My problem is that I cannot figure out how I could "sell" this book in the library. I certainly cannot use it for a lesson. Maybe if the book had come with an audio CD to help with rhythm and pronunciations. I also cannot imagine a child becoming excited about taking this book home. It does nto have a subject or even any characters to associate with. It is more like an illustrated song without music. That said the illustration are eye catching. I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

Megan B. said...

How Do You Wokka-Wokka? is such a fun read with a great message! While I agree that the rhythm might take time to figure out, that will not matter to kids. I think this book will definitely get kids moving and dancing. Like other mentioned, it could also be used in a poetry unit. I love the message that both the words and the illustrations portray: the importance of individualism! Kids need this lesson now more than ever. I give this 4.5/5.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings about this book. It's cute and fun and I love the illustrations, but I'm having a little trouble getting the right rhythm. Because it takes some practice I don't know if many of my students will take the time it requires to fully enjoy it. I give it a 3.
Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

Gail Brisson said...

This book features fun nonsense words along with catchy rhymes. It will be perfect for preK and K read-alouds and will allow everyone to demonstrate how they wokka-wokka. The illustrations are nicely done-- energetic, a bit goofy. I could imagine pairing this book with a cd of scat singing, since the text has such a nice jazzy feel.

ahslibrarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahslibrarian said...

Picture books that have wide appeal seem rare, but How Do You Wokka-Wokka? joins the ranks of Dr. Seuss and a host of more recent creations. Creativity and fun with language often are the traits that are associated with memorable books and Bluemle has struck a familiar chord.
After I picked up the book from my school mailbox I gave it a quick read, tucked it under my arm, and checked in with a senior English class working on their research projects. One student asked, “Whatcha got?” so I read the title and immediately began an imprpomptu read-aloud. The predictable language caught their attention and before I knew it the Wokka-Wokka chorus was born.
After the read, as if back in the elementary or the home they wanted to hear it again. That was evidence enough to declare and reinforce the beauty of language and remind them how their early lives were filled with the same kind of inventive expressions.
The diversion was not really a diversion, but just a reminder that reading could still be fun, and that reading aloud together is an activity that any community can enjoy.
Praents, teachers, librarians, and others can surely create the same results when they share the beauty of discovering their own language once again. Add How Do You Wokka-Wokka? to the collection with confidence and do experience it as a read-aloud.

5 Out of 5 because 6 is unavailable

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901


Julie said...

I loved reading this book! I immediately tried to figure out how to incorporate it into my poetry unit with my 5th graders. I highly recommend this to any teacher (or parent) that is looking for something different to remind their students how to be original.

Julia Pitau said...

I loved this book and found myself laughing out loud as I read along in a nicely flowing rhythm! Upon receiving this highly anticipated book, I handed it off to some of my colleagues with younger children for them to review. It seems to be definitely for the Kindergarten age-group.

Picnic Rating: 4 for Kindergarteners and those young at heart because I DID rummage through the picnic basket ;-) to read it!

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

juli said...

Don't you just love-a love-a a catchy book! I certainly enjoyed sharing the book with my 5th graders. It did take me a couple of practices to feel I had the rhythm and words down right. We talk a lot about fun language and saving words we hear or want to use in our writing. This gave us a great real life model of where fun ideas can come from and we can break those rules every once in awhile! We also had fun wokka-wokking to lunch and watching how everybody else wokka wokkas!

I give the book 5 out of 5!

denver, co

ddurance said...

I read this to my daughter who is seven. It's fun to read because of the silly rhyming words and we got several giggles out of it. I can see it being very useful for story-time for young children as it is short and to the point, yet you can get them involved by moving and doing the wokka-wokka themselves. The illustrations are cute and child-friendly. I definitely recommend it for the younger set that can't sit still for long. They'll ask for it over and over again and you'll enjoy reading it yourself.

Rating: 4/5
Only because I agree with what others say that you may need to practice a bit to get the rhythm and words down pat.

Deidre Durance
Alma / Bacon County Public Library
Alma, Georgia

Anonymous said...

How Do You Wokka-Wokka? Anyway you wanta wanta! I loved the creative language and the celebration of the free spirit that we all start out with but often forget to appreciate. I can definitely see it being used and enjoyed in primary and music classrooms. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Peaceful Reader said...

It is exciting when I click on the Picnic Basket site in time to be on what ever their latest offerings are! Recently I received Elizabeth Bluemle's How do you wokka-wokka? with illustrations by Randy Cecil. I did one quick read-through right after I opened the package and I have to admit I was not that excited. It begins like this: "Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka-" and it continues through with adorable children asking how do you wokka-wokka. It was a bit too nonsensical for me but then I brought it home for story time and peaceful girl loved it!! She wokka-wokka'd all of her bed, her room and me with obvious delight!!! Maybe not great for bedtime but she loved it and kept wanting to go back to it when we moved on to her chapter book reading choice. With her as my guide I got it and it made me laugh. Looking through her joyful eyes at such fun, silly wordplay made the book come alive. I would highly recommend this choice for elementary students and I look forward to reading it to my 4 kindergarten classes just to see their take on "wokka-wokka"!!!
The author information at the back of the book says Elizabeth Bluemle owns The Flying Pig bookstore in Vermont, with lots of great information on their site. I dream of owning a little book shop myself!!!

Lisa Kennedy said...

I love to Reada, Reada, "How Do You Wokka-Wokka" to our kindergarten students. On rainy days we Wokka-Wokka all over our Rooma-Rooma. The students enjoy making up silly words and silly motions and I enjoy the fun they have creating their own version of Wokka-Wokka. It's such a hit that other teachers are always asking to borrow my copy. I'm going to show them how to wokka-wokka to buy the booka-booka. Super cute!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Susan Mello that this book would be great if accompanied by a CD with rhythms and background music etc. I first read the book silently to myself and wasn't too impressed. The real fun comes when you read the book out loud, and the rhythm of the words become a character in the story.

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