The Gollywhopper Games
The Gollywhopper Games
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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson competes against thousands of other children at extraordinary puzzles, stunts, and more in hopes of a fresh start for his family, which has been ostracized since his father was falsely accused of embezzling from Golly Toy and Game Company.
Catalog Number: #600051849
Format: Ebook
No other formats available
Special Formats: Ebook (Subscription, 26 uses) Ebook Downloadable Downloadable
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2013
Illustrator: Jamieson, Victoria,
Pages: 336
Territory: North America
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-195731-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-195731-4
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
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.
Horn Book
For his birthday, a boy receives flower seeds from his uncle then secretly scatters them around town. By story's end, the "flower magician" is unmasked. The premise is derivative of Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius, but this European import adds a dose of botany and school life to the story. Cheerful paintings that illustrate the boy's quaint town complement the upbeat tale.
Kirkus 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 a 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)
Publishers Weekly

When his father is charged with embezzlement, 12-year-old Gil Goodson becomes an outcast at school and his family sinks under a black cloud that doesn't lift, not even after his dad is acquitted. From this somber premise, first-time novelist Feldman concocts an outlandish method by which Gil will come out on top again—and get enough cash so his family can move. But winning the Gollywhopper Games, a contest sponsored by the toy company that fired his father, means besting 25,000 entrants in a series of brainteasers. Gil makes it to the final 10, where two teams compete against each other. His teammates are as obnoxious as the golden ticket holders on Charlie Bucket's famous tour, though not as imaginatively drawn, and their bickering nearly drains the fun from the whacked-out challenges they face. Indeed, the appeal of the book lies in the puzzles, which involve unscrambling clues hidden in rhyming verses and then tackling various stunts (obstacle courses, mazes, scavenger hunts) that get increasingly difficult as the field is winnowed. As the outcome of this intricate, potentially interactive story is never in doubt, many kids will want to put the story on pause to try to work out each answer. Final illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 10-14. (Feb.)

School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Gil is one of 5000 kids competing for fame and prizes in a fantastic event sponsored by the Golly Toy and Game Company. By solving a series of word games and puzzles, and passing physical challenges, he reaches the finals, where he must outshine four others, including an ex-classmate who may be cheating. Gil has further motivation to win-his father was wrongly accused of embezzling from the company, a personal stake that provides added interest. The challenges themselves are fun: the wordplay and codes required to solve them are tricky, but not impossible, and it's interesting to see the kids' thought processes. Part of the competition involves teaming up, and Gil shows leadership skills and learns to see his partners' hidden strengths. Adequate black-and-white drawings appear throughout. With occasionally stiff dialogue and fairly superficial supporting characters, the process of the Games is the main draw. Several plot contrivances, including the fact that the fathers of two of the finalists were rival Golly Toys employees, make things a bit less suspenseful. Despite these flaws, the appealing premise of a competition within a toy company headquarters recalls Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Knopf, 1964), and the puzzle solving may appeal to fans of Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society (Little, Brown, 2007) or Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004), making Feldman's book a workable, though less satisfying, follow-up to those titles.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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School Library Journal
Word Count: 45,331
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 121613 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.3 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q43658
Lexile: 590L
Gollywhopper Games, The EPB

Chapter One

If Gil Goodson was to have a chance, any chance at all, he would have to run faster than he was running right now.

Run. Away from University Stadium, packed with throngs of contestants who'd suddenly appeared from nowhere to get in line. Run, blinking back the sweat, pushing the lawn mower he wished he could abandon on the street. Run, past the lawn he'd just taken valuable time to cut because Mrs. Hempstead really believed the national TV networks might show her boring street. What were the chances of that happening? About as much as, as . . . as what?

As Gil had of winning the Gollywhopper Games?

One chance in 25,000—if he could still get a ticket. He'd been planning this day since last summer, ever since Golly Toy and Game Company announced the Gollywhopper Games.

With Gil's foolproof plan, he wouldn't have to buy zillions of toys and games to find one of 500 instant winner tickets. He wouldn't need to send in tons of entries, hoping his name might be drawn from millions and millions of others to win one of 20,000 tickets in that sweepstakes.

He lived eight blocks from University Stadium. He only needed to be one of the first 4,500 kids when the line opened at eleven a.m. today. The plan was to stand with his duffel and sleeping bag just outside the "no-enter" zone and storm the stadium at the front of the crowd.

He'd planned it all, except for yesterday's monsoon that had kept him from mowing Mrs. Hempstead's lawn. Why didn't he realize the mushy ground would keep him working for an extra hour? Why didn't he have weather ESP? Then he never would have let Mrs. Hempstead prepay him—double—to make her lawn perfect by this morning.

With the money already in the bank, Gil was stuck finishing the job. Only a thief would raise a son who took money then didn't do the work. Not true, but people might say that. Wasn't that one reason he needed to get into the Games? To erase it all?

Gil rammed the lawn mower into the splintered shed behind their pea-sized house, then jammed his key into the back-door lock. Inside, he grabbed a scrap of paper from the kitchen drawer and pulled out a pen. It slipped from his long, sweaty fingers and rolled under the stove. He grabbed another.

He raced to the front door, reached for the duffel, the sleeping bag and . . . What was that smell?

It was him: a rising stench of grass and sweat and lawn mower gas. Gil propelled himself down the hall, into the shower, beneath the cold water, fully dressed. He wedged off his shoes, peeled away his cutoff jeans, underwear, and T-shirt, and skipped the bar of soap over his body, squirted some shampoo on his wavy hair and urged the trickling water to rinse him faster. Then with one hand he turned off the shower and with the other grabbed the nearest towel. Damp. Who cared who used it last. His mom? His dad? He'd barely use it anyway. The August weather in Orchard Heights would finish the job.

He jumped into jeans that his legs had almost outgrown again, and by the time he'd struggled into a gray T-shirt, he was at the front door, hoisting the duffel over his shoulder and burrowing his fingers under the elastic bands that kept the sleeping bag rolled. He pushed his feet into his flip-flops, shoved a baseball cap on his head, and was back on the street.

Back toward University Stadium. Back past the parked cars bearing every license plate in the country. Back toward the massive line encircling the stadium then practically circling it again. Back past the horseshoe pits, barbecue grills, and volleyball games.

"Are you at the end?" he asked a man making camp with his kids.

"Not anymore, son."

Gil dropped his gear near a small tree and scanned the mass of bodies. How many of them were there? More than he could count. And no way he'd ask the reporter over there, take the chance she'd recognize him from The Incident.

Gil pivoted away, but seconds later felt a tap on his shoulder. Had she noticed him? He turned so the bill of his baseball cap masked his eyes.

Some shrimpy guy with a Golly badge handed him a yellow card. "Here."

"What's this?" Gil asked.

"It's not a ticket, but guard it with your life," said the guy. "If you lose it, you might as well go to the end of the line. The first person has number one, and you've got . . . Well, look at your own number. The first forty-five hundred have guaranteed tickets tomorrow morning, and I've heard maybe a thousand more will get in. Everything's printed on the back."

Gil looked at his yellow card.

#5915

5,915? No. No!

If he could somehow get in, even if 1,415 people who had instant win and mail-in tickets didn't show up, he still might be disqualified in the end. It was, after all, Golly Toy and Game Company that had had his father arrested.

Gollywhopper Games, The EPB. Copyright © by Jody Feldman . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman, Victoria Jamieson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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!


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