I think that a good children’s book is one that tells an engaging story while encouraging creativity and mental exercise and this book definitely does both. It was entertaining to solve puzzles right along with Zane, and a relief that one could just plow ahead for the answer if one was feeling lazy (or lost, lol) about trying to figure out what was being asked. The combination of mental and physical challenges make me wish these games really existed because I think that they would be both fun and educational, and would encourage children to exercise both sets of muscles (mental and physical). The underlying story is all too relevant a subject, as Zane has to face the potential repercussions of brain injury resulting from head trauma, but the message that being well-rounded is a bonus is artfully conveyed. I was pleased that a gamut of attitudes toward gamesmanship and the spirit of competition were described (with delightfully satisfying results for some attitudes) even as I was enthralled by the games themselves. The asides that deal with the machinations of the adults weren’t quite as necessary as far as I was concerned, but I don’t know whether this is an ongoing series that addresses the sabotage. This was a fun read with delightful illustrations that I think will be appreciated by both adults and youngsters, and I would love to read more by this author.
“The Gollywhopper Games: Friend or Foe”, written by Jody Feldman and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, is a children’s story that follows the adventures of Zane Braycott as he competes in the annual contest. The series of tasks that he must complete requires excelling in both mental and physical skills as well as a competitive spirit that combines teamwork and strategy as well as self-confidence. Only one person can win the Gollywhopper Games, but what will it take to be that person and is Zane willing to focus on something other than his beloved football long enough to compete?
Chock-full of puzzles, riddles, and challenges for the reader to solve along with the main characters, this companion to the first two Gollywhopper Games books offers readers plenty of action and fun. The perfect choice for fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Chasing Vermeer.
Zane is not that interested in the Gollywhopper Games. He'd rather play football and is sure that he's headed straight for the NFL. But when he gets his second concussion, his parents tell him, "No football for a year." Instead, to his surprise, he gets a chance to compete in the Gollywhopper Games. Zane's sense of strategy, his physical strength, and his competitive edge are all assets, and so is his ability to motivate his teammates and get them to work together. Zane becomes particularly close to Elijah, a young and scrawny genius who is friendly, awkward, and funny—Zane's polar opposite. These two unlikely friends end up head-to-head in the final challenge, where Elijah's quick thinking and Zane's physical strength make it a tough fight. This is a fun and fast-paced and interactive read for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Age Level: 8 - 12 | Grade Level: 3 - 7