Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country

Smith, Lane. 2003. THE HAPPY HOCKY FAMILY MOVES TO THE COUNTRY. Ill. by Lane Smith. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0670035947 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]

Lane Smith has created a funny easy reader with wit and humor. The Hocky Family has decided to move to the country where they find things are not always simple. Squirrels invade the bird a feeder, poison ivy attacks the children, Henry’s prize tomato looses at the fair, and the house leaks when it rains. But, despite the set backs, the Hocky’s decide life in the country will be okay! At the end of the story, the Hockys give tribute to the Waltons by wishing each family member good night.

Lane Smith has brought the Hocky Family back to life. The brown paper background laden with red plaid gives the book its country appeal. The visual elements and the Dick and Jane writing style gives the book its retro appeal to adult readers. The illustrations are filled with multiple simplistic geometric shapes. The book is divided into sections, each telling a brief story about the Hocky family. These pictures are page-turners. A succession of one-page illustrations shows Henry’s astonishment at the county fair, but turn the page and see his disappointment. The art is accessible and interesting to children and adults. The text and the pictures work brilliantly together to clarify, enhance, and extend the story. Children will enjoy the Hocky Family for years to come.


The short chapters of understatement would be great for a pair or trio of children to read and act out as skits.

The multitude of geometric shapes can be identified in a math lesson. Students can design their own pictures using only geometric shapes. Students cut out geometric shapes from a sheet of construction paper. Students are to create another shape with their cutouts. Encourage them to tie their shape awareness with what they see in their environment; for example, a child might make a boat using a trapezoid and 3 triangles. After students have glued the shapes on the construction paper, they can create a background with markers or crayons.

Other stories about families:
Clement, Rod. JUST ANOTHER ORDINARY DAY. ASIN 0060276673
Denim, Sue. MAKE WAY FOR DUMB BUNNIES. ISBN 0590582887
Smith, Lane. THE HAPPY HOCKY FAMILY. ISBN 0670852066

By Jill Howell

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