Every now and again I read a review on some book I’ve never heard of and locate a copy for myself. ThisKidErik is particularly good at growing my tbr list. The Gollywhopper Games is one he recommended. He gave it five bookworms. I give it four.
This is a really fun book. Sort of a Survivor meets Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Not quite as literary as I like, but it kept me turning pages. It’s fairly thick at 305 pages, so I was surprised just how quickly it read.
Gil wants to get out of town. His father lost his job with the Golly Toy and Game Company in a false and widely publicized embezzlement “Incident”, and Gil can’t seem to live that down. He wants to move away from his former friends who now gossip and accuse, but that will only happen if he can win the “biggest, bravest, boldest competition the world has ever seen!” The Gollywhopper Games, sponsored by the company that spurned his father.
The most difficult part of the book for me the heart of the book–the riddles. The games are centered around solving riddles based on Golly products. I am not a riddler. I don’t like board games or video games. I don’t play cards. I hate jigsaw puzzles. I have no eye for patterns. I don’t like number games. Math made me break out in a cold sweat at school. I can’t handle crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or even word searches. And these puzzles were far beyond my ability to enjoy. But the story of Gil’s trials, his mistakes, his determination, his interaction and reconciliation with old friends, those intrigued me. And I liked the bright, imaginative settings of Golly’s magical world.
If this game-handicapped reader could happily while away a few hours between these pages, I’m pretty sure it will appeal to kids with more puzzle talent than I possess (which is basically all of them). Recommended for ages 9+, due to its length, but suitable for younger listeners.