Gollywhopper Games
by Feldman, Jody; Jamieson, Victoria (ILT)

Jody Feldman's popular, award-winning novel about a group of kids playing the Gollywhopper Games&;the fiercest toy company competition in the country&;will appeal to fans of The Amazing Race and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

Gil Goodson has been studying, training, and preparing for months to compete in the Gollywhopper Games. Everything is at stake. Once Gil makes it through the tricky preliminary rounds and meets his teammates in the fantastical Golly Toy and Game Company, the competition gets tougher. Brainteasers, obstacle courses, mazes, and increasingly difficult puzzles and decisions&;not to mention temptations, dilemmas, and new friends (and enemies)&;are all that separate Gil from ultimate victory. An interactive and inventive page-turner perfect for young readers who love to solve puzzles!

Combine the contest and puzzle elements of the TV show The Amazing Race, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1967), and Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game (1974). Then, add a young man's desire to defend his father, and you've got Feldman's slight but enjoyable debut novel. Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson's father worked for the Golly Toy and Game Company but was fired after being investigated for (and acquitted of) embezzling funds. Gil is determined not only to win the Gollywhopper Games grand prize (cash, a college scholarship, and all sorts of Golly toys and games) but also to clear his father's name. Feldman includes truly despicable villains, unexpected kindnesses, and a surprise ending. The characterization is somewhat underdeveloped, but this is clearly a plot- and puzzle-driven novel. Nonstop action, appealing pencil illustrations, and increasingly difficult brainteasers will keep readers engaged, and readers will pull out paper and pencil to try and solve the puzzles as they work through the book. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Brainteasers and tricky puzzles are all part of the Gollywhopper Games, a promotional sweepstakes leading to untold wealth and fame for the lucky and smart contestants. While there are multiple ways to enter, Gil, the son of a disgraced former employee, is counting on being quick to the line outside the stadium that will allow 4,500 kids into the games. Quite quickly, the contestants are whittled down to two teams. Gil's study of the company, plus a sunny personality that allows him to create alliances for support, helps him and then his team compete, only to discover that the team members are pitted against each other to decide the ultimate winner. Fun in the style of Eric Berlin's The Puzzling World of Winston Breen (2007), readers can count on amazing special effects la Roald Dahl's Charlie books, and a straight arrow hero who has the extra motivation of being an outcast due to his father's supposed sins. Plain good fun for puzzle addicts, with plenty of action and the suspense only a ticking timer can offer. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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