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The Gollywhopper Games

The Gollywhopper Games

4.4 89
by Jody Feldman, Victoria Jamieson

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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


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!

Editorial Reviews

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.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 9 to 12.

Gil's motives for competing in the Gollywhopper Games are as complex as the puzzles he and his teammates will have to solve in order to win. What a fitting revenge it would be to force the company to pay him the grand prize. After all, they fired his father on a false accusation of embezzlement! Gil has studied everything: company history; the rules of the games the company makes; and everything about the games, from the individual pieces to the distribution year. Unfortunately, two of the players are cheating and they end up on Gil's team. He not only has to figure out the puzzles, but figure out how to keep the other two from getting them disqualified. The story is quickly paced but not at the cost of rich characterization. The reader is privy to all the puzzles, figuring them out alongside the players. The author's description of the setting and characters is so good that the illustrations are almost superfluous. This is a really good debut novel: fun to read and satisfyingly wrapped up. Reviewer: Diane Carver Sekeres, Ph.D.

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.
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)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Gollywhopper Games , #1
Sold by:
Sales rank:
590L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Gollywhopper Games

By Jody Feldman HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
Jody Feldman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061214516

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 kepthim 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.


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.


Excerpted from The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman Copyright © 2008 by Jody Feldman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jody Feldman has always loved riddles and brainteasers and word games, and she lives in a city on a river whose name contains four s's, two p's, and four i's. Jody has written as many books for young readers as there are players in a doubles tennis match. To find out how many brothers she has, take the number of bases on a baseball diamond and divide it by the number of times Grover Cleveland was president of the United States.

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Gollywhopper Games 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
Weizkracker More than 1 year ago
The Gollywhopper games is a fantastic book. It's kind of sad in a way when the main character's dad gets arrested. I love the way some books are when you say your going to stop and end up reading an hour more. This is one of those books. The author, Judy Feldman, did a great job writing this book. I don't know how to make it better.
courtney merryweather More than 1 year ago
this book has edventure and it is very creative i personaly loved it
MidwestReader7 More than 1 year ago
Gollywhopper Games delivered even more than I had expected. I enjoyed this book so much that I keep recommending it to everyone I know. And, I have even given it as a gift. So enjoyable and fun to read. We are waiting for a second book by this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has brain teasing puzzels you will probably have Your nose in it like i did hey teachers read this aloud to your Students
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is full of great brain puzzles and problem solving. Go Gil
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know the book looks weird but it is seriously the beeest!!! I love trying to figure out the puzzles i have read it so many times i have lost count & i am only12 my mom keeps saying all u read is that book! Because i love it so much"!"" I hope u r intristed in it~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thats how good this book is. You can never let out of your sight!!!!!!!
Jeier_Macey More than 1 year ago
This book is great for ages 1-100!
mommymoore More than 1 year ago
We chose this book for my ten year old's book club. It was a light, fun summer read. A toy company announces a major contest with a series of mystery challenges. A boy, whose father used to work for the company, enters to try to save his family from financial ruin. In the process he meets several other kids who become competititors and friends. The characters are realistic and likeable. The challenges are fun and inventive as you try to solve them along with the children in the story. Readers will find themselves cheering for the main character and wishing they could be a part of the adventure themselves. The ending has enough of twists not to be trite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do. Kay, my nook is broken. I think one of my bros stepped on it. There is no way to fix it tho. Im hopig to get a new one for Christmas, but i will probably not be on for a while. Im borrowing my sisters nook to tell u this. If u really need someoe to talk to ill check it once in a while on her nook but i probably wont be on for awhile. Dont leave! Im hoping to be back soon. Love ya!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey i saw your post on beswitched. I am also in 9th grade. ;D &hearts Hazel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry its been so long. How are you? Hans
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh never mind every one that says it's age is 12 so it is perfect for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah. Hmmmm.... hows school? An snow?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 10 year old daughter loved this book - she couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awful!!@#books#awful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! I was super attached to it and couldnt put it down! My friends told me about it and i didnt think it would be that good, but it turns out I was falling in love with the book! The way all the scenes were described, I felt like i was right there inside the book! The way the author wrote the book was so grabbing and made me keep the book in my hands at all times! I really do belive that this book should be read around the world by EVERYBODY!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg best book ever. I'm 12 and i've read the book 11 1/2 times!!!! I recomend it to every one!
M-dog More than 1 year ago
I would recommend the Gollywhopper Games becaise it is a funny book. It is awesome. One of the best books I have read. My top 10.