The Gollywhopper Games

Common Sense Media says

Suspenseful, high-stakes contest of puzzles.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Several of the contestants cheat, but our hero is honest and true-blue.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable

Video game brands mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is nothing to be concerned about here. Some characters cheat, but are caught, and the main character is honest, even when offered bribes.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Ten children are picked out of thousands to compete in the Gollywhopper Games, a contest sponsored by a toy company, with fabulous prizes to win. But Gil has more at stake -- the year before, his father, who worked for the company, was fired and arrested, falsely accused of embezzlement. Though acquitted, he and his family are still treated like criminals, and Gil wants to get enough money for them to move out of town. But the president of the company wants to bribe him to drop out, some of the other contestants are cheating, and one of them might have information about the real criminal.

Is it any good?


Start with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Make Charlie a little more dynamic, and add a backstory wherein he is trying to exonerate his father. Lose the silly humor, keep the magical factory, but change the tour to a series of puzzles and games, and you're getting close to the idea of THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES, which the author says was inspired by a boy who loved Dahl's classic book and wanted something else like it.

OK, it's not really much like it, but the result is exciting and suspenseful, with puzzles that are just challenging enough, and characters to root for who are appealing, if not very fleshed out. Bright middle-graders will enjoy it, including pausing to figure out the riddles before the characters do, and may get interested in solving more word puzzles and playing word games afterwards. Good fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the games and puzzles. Do you like word games? Were you able to solve any of them yourself? How did you do it?

Book details

Author:Jody Feldman
Illustrator:Victoria Jamieson
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Publication date:March 1, 2008
Number of pages:308
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of The Gollywhopper Games was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 8 years old Written bydragonsreallyrule April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A great story!

I loved it! A boy enters some games so he can get money to move. This story has some puzzles in it and one at the end. A must read for both boys and girls!

Parent of a 5 and 9 year old Written byInvested Mom January 14, 2010

A Great Read

I read this book with my nine year old daughter and we both loved it! We laughed we cried we cheered for the good guys! My daughters’ reading level is end of fourth grade but she struggled somewhat with the concept of corporate crime in the beginning so I started reading with her and we couldn't put it down. We hope they make it into a movie; it's a great adventure and full of amazing vocabulary and imagination.

Parent of a 12 year old Written byryderer February 15, 2011

This book was amazing! A new modern day vewrsion of Charlie and the Chocalate Factory!!

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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