Review by Becky Laney, frequent contributor.
If Gil Goodson was to have a chance, any chance at all, he would have to run faster than he was running right now.
I enjoyed The GollyWhopper Games. It's part Chasing Vermeer. Part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Part The Mysterious Benedict Society. In other words, it's a whole lot of fun. The Golly Whopper toy company is having a contest, a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thousands and thousands of kids want to make it, hope to make it, but no one wants it more than Gil Goodson. His father was fired from the GollyWhopper company--falsely accused of embezzling the company's funds. He's been proven innocent, but the Goodson family is still the town's scapegoats. Gil Goodson wants to win, and if wanting gives you power, then he's fully charged and ready to go. But is he ready to face all of the obstacles and challenges in his path?
Gil is a likable narrator. He is. He's a kid--much like Charlie Bucket--who you want to win. I should note that the other contestants aren't as detestable as Charlie's competitors. The games, the challenges, require mental, emotional, and physical prowess. The finals of the game--for example--require each team of five to solve a logic puzzle. After the mind has been stimulated, then there is a physical stunt required. The puzzles are puzzling. Meaning, the reader can have just as much fun as the characters themselves. For those that love the puzzle-solving elements of Chasing Vermeer and Mysterious Benedict Society, The GollyWhopper Games might be just what you're looking for.
A book that encourages higher thinking skills? A book that encourages team work? A book that encourages determination and diligence? What's not to love?
Some--but not all--readers might find it a bit predictable. Some might not be on the edge-of-their-seats waiting to see if Gil wins the big game. But even if it is a wee bit predictable on that front, it is satisfying. And being satisfying is important too. After all, I wouldn't want anyone other than Gil to win!