Today, in honor of Friday (not really) I bring you The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman. A middle grade read that I (who am not middle grade anymore) think is interesting, The Gollywhopper Games are the story of twelve-year-old Gil’s experience with – no surprise here – the Gollywhopper Games, a contest put on by Golly Toy & Game Company that has unimaginable prizes. A college tuition and every toy the company has ever sold or will ever sell are only the kick-off prizes.
Gil is lucky; he lives in the town where the games will be held. If he is one of the first 4,500 kids in line, he will win entrance to the first round of the games. If he completes that one, he will move on to the next round, and so on, until one winner is chosen.
There’s only one problem. The Golly Toy & Game Company thinks that Gil’s dad stole five million dollars from the CEO. They can’t prove it, so they must let him compete, but he is sure to have a lot more enemies than the average person in the contest. Gil knows that his dad didn’t do it, but he can’t prove that either, and Gil’s dad has promised that they will move towns if Gil can win the games. And Gil really wants to win the games.
A page turner on a timer, The Gollywhopper Games has so many puzzles. Some of them are easy to solve, some of them are harder (mostly because the readers haven’t read through 50 years of Golly product history), and all of them are interesting. It’s the kind of book that has inspired dreams. Like, nighttime, REM state dreams, not aspirations. Though it’s geared towards ages 10-14, I’d recommend it to YA fans of all ages, as long as they’re okay with some tween angst and not expecting a dystopian thriller. It’s thrilling in a different way than The Hunger Games, but with a similar-ish concept, if I do compare a book by it’s title.