Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Croaky Pokey: A Leap Day Dance!

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
Dance educator Maria Hanley and I are exploring the picture book The Croaky Pokey this month. In the book, author and illustrator Ethan Long turns the Hokey Pokey into a perfect song for a creative movement class. Thank you, Holiday House, for sending me a review copy of this creative and entertaining book!

A few weeks ago I blogged about the picture book Leap Back Home to Me, which is a sweet and gentle story about a frog who loves to leap. Well, since today's actually Leap Day, I'm going to blog about frogs again. But this time the frogs aren't so sweet and gentle. They're bouncy and boisterous...and they're hungry!

The Croaky Pokey, written and illustrated by Ethan Long, takes the standard Hokey Pokey and adds a clever twist--just enough to make the song seem like it's new. Set in a pond, the book follows a group of frogs as they shake their body parts one at a time (just like in the traditional song) and then hop around in pursuit of a dragonfly that they just can't seem to catch...

Put your right hand in, 
Put your right hand out, 
Put your right hand in, 
And wave it all about, 

Hop the Croaky Pokey 
As we chase a fly around, 
Right in the froggy's mouth!


As the book progresses, the illustrations show that the frogs aren't the only ones inhabiting the pond. And they aren't the only ones trying to catch the dragonfly, either. SNAP! go the jaws of an alligator. And SNAP! goes the beak of a bird who is poking his head out of the pond. A little turtle and a few of the frogs are also playing trombones on the edge of the pond, adding an extra vibe of rhythm and fun to the book.

Ethan Long's illustrations in this book make me laugh every time I see them. As the long tongues of more and more frogs just miss catching the dragonfly--WHAP!--the tongues become more prominent in the illustrations. The already bulging eyes of the frogs also seem to get bigger and bigger over time.

Amid the chaos, the carefree dragonfly is buzzing merrily along, even singing with the trombone music on some pages, completely unphased by his surroundings...well, at least until he is surprised at the end of the book. I won't tell you the surprise, but I will tell you that none of the frogs ever do catch the fly. Instead, their tongues end up tangled around each other, and around the bird and alligator, in a hilarious mess on the last few pages. Definitely a funny sight!

Since the Hokey Pokey is a familiar song to many preschoolers, I thought it would be relatively easy for Maria to incorporate it into her classes. With all the waving of body parts and all the hopping, there are also plenty of opportunities for movement. And I think the song lends itself very well to adaptation. For instance, it would be fun for kids to explore animals other than frogs, and thus explore movement other than hopping.

Are you ready to see how Maria used the book with her kids? Let's find out here!


  1. Kerry, we had the same idea by using different animals! Such a fun book! :) Thank you!

    1. Thank you, too, Maria! I love all your ideas for using the book with grown-ups, too!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful book, Kerry! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hi, Susanna. I'm so glad you stopped by! This is one of those books that I never saw at the bookstore and didn't see much press about but am so glad I found :)


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