The Gollywhopper Games

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Gollywhopper Games Book Poster Image
Suspenseful, high-stakes contest of puzzles.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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


Video game brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byJojano April 1, 2011

Fun, creative book for the whole family

I read this book aloud to my then 8 yr old and 6 yr old. My son would have been fine to read this on his own; my daughter (the 6 year old) benefited from me r... Continue reading
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!!
Kid, 12 years old May 23, 2020

Very stereotyped

This books overall message is ok, but the stereotyping is waaaaaay too much. First of all, the character named Bianca, is always dressed in a bikini, and the b... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 10, 2012


this book is very good for older kids but might be too violent for little kids gil is one of the best role models because even though his father was in jail he... Continue reading

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?

This book is good fun. 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.

Talk to your kids 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

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