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The Happy Hocky Family

The Happy Hocky Family

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This is a book about the Hocky family. In this book you will read stories about them and tubas, airplanes, balloons, skateboards, birthdays, boats, chores, dishes, naps, ants, toys, and cousin Stinky.

64 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 1993

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About the author

Lane Smith

119 books326 followers
Lane Smith was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved to Corona, California at a young age. He spent summers in Tulsa, however, and cites experiences there as inspirations for his work, saying that "[o]nce you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand (sic) in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

He studied art in college at the encouragement of his high school art teacher, helping to pay for it by working as a janitor at Disneyland. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration, and moved to New York City, where he was hired to do illustrations for various publications including Time, Mother Jones, and Ms..

Smith is married to Molly Leach, who is a book designer and designed the Smith/Scieszka collaboration.


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5 stars
337 (51%)
4 stars
192 (29%)
3 stars
85 (12%)
2 stars
28 (4%)
1 star
17 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 104 reviews
Author 7 books9 followers
May 1, 2008
I read this book. Did you read this book? It made me very happy.
Profile Image for Emily.
893 reviews150 followers
November 2, 2009
This book is so special, I just had to create a whole new shelf for it.

We passed through Niantic today, had lots of store credit to burn at the Book Barn, and two small boys eating too many free donuts (the small "chocolate" coated ones that taste like wax). It was time to go, but I spotted this, vaguely remembered reading it in the 90s and finding it funny, grabbed it and got us out of there. Later at home, with the boys asleep, I had the chance to look over my purchases more leisurely and reread it. This book is wickedly funny -- it's a parody of early readers -- and it's a mercy my cackles didn't wake the house. But the tragedy is that as much as I love it, I will not be able to read to this to my older son, who would take it at face value and find it completely devastating. Consider the chapter titled "Holly's Boat":

Holly's boat will not float.
"Little Boat, why won't you float?" asks Holly.
"Do not be afraid, little boat. You can do it...FLOAT!"
"You're right!", said Holly's boat. "I CAN do it..."
"I CAN DO IT..."
Holly's Boat floated away and away.
Holly had to buy a new boat.

Cue tears and furious demands to write the author a letter and make him change the story. Perhaps I'll share this one with T when he's in his 20s...
Profile Image for Monica Edinger.
Author 6 books338 followers
April 28, 2008
Seems to me parody is most successful when the audience knows the object being parodied. My students know their early readers so this book is hilarious for them.
Profile Image for Tess.
24 reviews3 followers
September 13, 2008
This book changed the way I speak English.

Find it. Read it out loud to as many people as will let you. Take public transportation and read it to commuters.

It is my favorite kids book ever.
Profile Image for Treasa.
310 reviews2 followers
January 21, 2010
Meet the Hocky Family! There are 6 of them in all - Mr, Mrs, Henry, Holly, Baby, and Newton. They are a pretty normal family with chores to do and trips to the zoo and toys to play with. And even when things go wrong in this family, everyone manages to stay happy!

I found this book oddly amusing, but I don't think I could ever read it to a child. The humor seems a little grown-up for most young children. They might find parts of it funny, but some parts are just too morbid or sophisticated to entertain them.

The stick-figure-ish people with the bizarre text is a perfect combination - they have a complementary quirkiness. And the whole presentation of the book is wonderful - Molly Leach is a design wizard.

If this were not considered a child's picture book, I might give it more stars... but I really can't see myself ever handing this book to a child, unless that child has a really strange and grown-up sense of humor.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,624 reviews80 followers
April 4, 2008
Hands down, this is one of the best children's books I have ever read. I love how Lane Smith has illustrated and how delightfully funny and sweet it is. This is a totally awesome book, check it out today.
Profile Image for Heika.
46 reviews
November 17, 2008
This is the funniest little kids book. I laugh so hard everytime I read it.
Profile Image for Annie.
151 reviews8 followers
June 4, 2010
ok, so maybe this is the best book i've ever read.
Profile Image for Karen.
Author 9 books28 followers
May 25, 2014
I love this book so much, I can't believe I haven't reviewed it until now. Making up for that oversight right now.

I have owned this book since 1993, when I was unmarried and not even thinking about having kids or becoming a children's librarian. I bought several copies of this book and gave them out to my adult friends as gifts. About half of my friends thought the book was great; the other half just thought I was really weird.

I love every little vignette in this book, but my absolute favorite is, and always has been, The Coat Story. It is such a brilliant and simple study in optimism.
Profile Image for Beth.
2,935 reviews199 followers
June 24, 2012

This is one of those books you just have to read to understand the experience. This story isn't necessarily a story, but more like a series of different vignettes on each page. Each vignette is either interactive in some way or asks kids to make some inferences or ask questions of what's going on in the scene. It's one of those books that teachers can read aloud and undoubtedly kids will be picking the book back up to dig deeper into the subtler aspects of the story and illustrations.
Profile Image for Sarah B..
220 reviews17 followers
July 14, 2014
This is a sarcastic book in the style of Dick and Jane. The illustrations are lushly retro, and the story is quite clever. But young children will not understand the humour, so I wouldn't say it is appropriate to read aloud to a child, unless you're willing to stop and explain each joke. It's definitely aimed at adults, probably especially those who had to toil through Dick and Jane-style readers when they were young. Cute, but not worth it.
Profile Image for Arminzerella.
3,745 reviews87 followers
December 28, 2011
Funny, but not as funny as I was led to believe. I had high expectations. It has some good moments. This is like Dick and Jane, but snarky.


Chores: Quiz #1
Today was Holly's day to do the laundry. See if you can match the pocket items before and after the dryer. [before items include a crayon, dime, penny, army figure, piece of candy, ticket, piece of gum] [after items include a penny, a dime, and several indistinct blackish blobs]
Profile Image for Amar Pai.
960 reviews101 followers
December 18, 2013
Repetitive, but half-way through I realized it's all jokes. They're not the funniest jokes in the world but they're pitched at adults more than kids, and I was in the right mood for it. Sample joke: kid is responsible for ants, they want 'air', kid opens the 'window' letting the ants out, ruins the new kitchen, which is presented as a learn-to-read type deal-- "SEE the new kitchen. SHINY. NEW. SEE it" etc etc with ants crawling everywhere. I guess you had to be there
Profile Image for Janelle.
66 reviews3 followers
January 27, 2008
I have a string!

When I was in high school, I went to summer camp at a Christian camp in the Santa Cruz mountains. The speaker they brought in that week to teach us started each session with "storytime" - when he would use powerpoint to tell a room full of teenagers a story from this picture book...and everyone loved it! The Hocky sense of humor appeals to a broad age range.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Vicki.
146 reviews
February 28, 2010
Kinda twisted humor for a children's picture book! I don't know whether children would get it; let's just say that I read it with a couple of parent volunteers in the school library and we were in stitches! It's a little "Dick and Jane" with a liberal dose of the real world. I guess you could say that it teaches you to have a positive attitude in the end.
Profile Image for Tara.
172 reviews3 followers
August 14, 2012
Not really for kids AND that's the best part! A hilariously wacky, sarcastic take on old fashioned primers. I bought this with the notion of reading it to my kids when they were old enough to appreciate it. Found it hiding on the bookshelf the other day. The 8th grader finds it as funny as I do! Joy!
Profile Image for Heidi-Marie.
3,854 reviews82 followers
November 6, 2012
Not what I expected, but I enjoyed the laughs. Text-wise, this could go for an early reader. That age may or may not get the humor, depending on if they take time to think of what they read as well as look at the illustrations. Enjoyable. I still think a good choice for "a family book" to have out for "Things You Love" storytime, even if I don't read it.
Profile Image for Terry Collins.
Author 203 books21 followers
December 3, 2016
My friend Jane Tesh turned me on to the Hocky family years ago. Recently found my copy and laughed as hard as the first time when I read and enjoyed the use of deceptively simple illustration crossed with deadpan dialogue. Funny for ALL ages. I'll be sharing it with my grandson (he's five going on six) next time he comes to visit. Long live Cousin Stinky!
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book649 followers
August 5, 2009
The simple block illustrations and short sentence narrative screams "beginning reader." But unlike "Dick and Jane" books, there is a subtle, almost wicked humor throughout this book. It's funny, and yet great for new readers and parents alike.
1,140 reviews
September 20, 2010
This book is hysterically funny. A subtle, sarcastic, subversive satire and parody of easy readers. The book design is excellent and Lane Smith is his usual clever, witty self. For kids who know easy readers and can appreciate the humor, and for adults too.
183 reviews7 followers
July 1, 2019
When a child starts to enjoy the humor that comes from a sharp contrast between a story's set-up and its conclusion, give them this book.
Profile Image for Jessica.
832 reviews1 follower
December 25, 2019
What an entertaining book! It took me a few chapters to get the hang of the story, but Smith’s humor jumped right off the pages! I would say, it’s not quite for young readers...a few bad habits and the monster stuff might be scary. But it’s quite funny and an easy read. Didn’t enjoy the illustrations, but I did like when the text and story had to work together to complete the message of the page.
October 16, 2020
Toys? What is toys? I do not know this word.

This book will make you happy while reading and for endless years after.

I bought The Happy Hocky Family sometime in the 90s for my two children and I still read and love it to this day.

Do yourself a favor and get it :)
Profile Image for Noah.
236 reviews
September 26, 2021
I like the baby story "I have a balloon. Do you have a balloon? I have a balloon." And then it goes pop and then he says, "I have a string. Do you have a string? I have a string." It's so funny. So funny.
Profile Image for Helen.
2,739 reviews58 followers
March 24, 2020
This is a puzzling book for children. It involves lots of reasoning! Not for the very young, actually, but for elementary school and even into teenage (they'd get a kick solving the puzzles).
Displaying 1 - 30 of 104 reviews

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