What parents need to know
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.
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?