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The Gollywhopper Games

Review

The Gollywhopper Games

Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson and his parents have had a grueling 18 months of legal battles, press invasions and tarnished reputations in their Orchard Heights community. Gil’s father, a former employee of the Golly Toy & Game Company, was falsely accused of embezzlement. And although the jury finds him innocent, a big chunk of the community refuses to accept it. Even Gil is the victim of emotional and physical harassment at school, and is chased off his sports teams. Thinking it won’t ever get better, he begs his dad to move. However, the family can’t afford it. Then Gil gets an idea.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Golly Toy & Game Company announces a huge event --- The Gollywhopper Games! Open to young people ages 11 to 15, contestants will compete in a series of clever puzzles and physical stunts to win a huge collection of prizes. Gil makes a deal with his dad: If he wins, then the family moves away from Orchard Heights forever. Easy, right? Not exactly. Since Gil’s dad isn’t an employee anymore, eligibility won’t be an issue (though it could turn into a big problem later). But what definitely will be an immediate problem will be getting into the competition.

Twenty-five thousand kids will start off --- including 500 instant wins hidden in Golly Toy & Game products, 20,000 winners in a random drawing and 4,500 winners chosen at the front door the morning of the competition. It’s the last one Gil is shooting for, as he lives mere blocks from the stadium where stage one of the competition is being held. He loads a backpack and grabs a sleeping bag, ready to camp out in order to be first in line. Unfortunately, unplanned events get in his way.

But, of course, Gil gets into the competition. The first round of games in the stadium will whittle down the contestants from 25,000 to 10. These finalists are instructed to arrive at the Golly Toy & Game Company building the next morning for the big fun to start. And what an amazing, incredible, adventurous day they have in front of them --- mind-boggling puzzles and physically demanding stunts hosted in a colorfully enchanted, dream-like warehouse, all in a race against time and each other to capture the huge prize. Win or lose, Gil is going to have the time of his life.

Jody Feldman’s first book for kids is so much fun! The high energy level spans the entire book, from the introduction of lovable and relatable Gil, through the clever puzzles and amazing tasks, all the way to the all-to-soon ending. Feldman reveals her colorful imagination, intricate smarts and writing talents on every page. It’s almost like the magical WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY meets the brain-tickling reality show “The Mole.” Readers can have even more fun by trying to figure out the puzzles on their own before learning what the characters do. I highly recommend THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, which will leave fans waiting impatiently for Feldman’s next book.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on August 25, 2009

The Gollywhopper Games
by Jody Feldman

  • Publication Date: August 25, 2009
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • ISBN-10: 0061214523
  • ISBN-13: 9780061214523