Monday, April 28, 2008
The Gollywhopper Games are Great!!
In my next few posts about books, I'd like to share some fun books I've read recently that would be good end of year or summer reading books to share with children.
The first one is The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman. It is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets The Mysterious Benedict Society meets Survivor meets American Idol.
The premise of the story is a competition sponsored by the Golly Toy & Game Company. The main character, Gil Goodson (don't you just love the names!), has his own personal agenda for making it into the competition, and then winning it (maybe).
American Idol similarities -- thousands of contestants wait in line just to make it into the Golly Toy and Game Company's facility where the competition will be held. Once they get in, their task is to be one of the finalists -- no, they don't have to sing, but they have to know a great deal about solving puzzles that require mega-knowledge about all of the Golly toys.
Survivor similarities -- You have to outwit and outplay the other contestants. That sometimes requires teamwork for our main character, Gil. Other times, it involves being smarter than those around you. There are many challenges in the contest, followed by the need to solve a puzzle. I must admit, the characters in this book were always a few steps ahead of me -- I never solved the puzzle before they led me in the right direction. I think kids reading this book would love to try to outwit the characters during the challenges. Another similarity, the winner cannot identify himself/herself until after the televised show -- the actual competition is taped.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory similarities -- The Golly Toy and Game Company is literally a child's dream come true! Everything is larger than life , and designed to overwhelm the eyes and the senses. Treasure chests with jewels and crowns, sleeping hippopotamuses, hot air balloons, giant bowling pins, palm trees, beaches, rainbow walls, walls that move at will -- those are just a few of the amazing things the characters encounter during the competition. And a competition would not be complete without the prerequisite badly-behaved children, as well.
The Mysterious Benedict Society similarities -- The most important lesson learned in TMBS is that it takes all of us and our unique gifts and talents to complete certain tasks in life. That again is a factor in The Gollywhopper Games as well.
I really, really enjoyed The Gollywhopper Games. It's not full of beautiful, descriptive language (though the descriptions of the inside of The Golly Toys and Games Company are quite detailed), but it's fun, and it made me think -- I really wanted to solve some of the puzzles. (Needless to say, I would have been eliminated very early in the competition with the puzzle-solving ability I displayed.) The characters are interesting -- why is it so important for Gil to win? -- plus you meet some other unique characters along the way. It's very suspenseful -- I read it in an afternoon. I just couldn't wait to see what happened in each of the next tasks and puzzles. There's even a twist at the end that ties up the loose ends.
Jody Feldman must have had fun thinking of all the puzzles, because she leaves the readers with one final puzzle AFTER the ending.
My last rationale for why you should read The Gollywhopper Games -- just saying the title makes me smile!