(adapted from e-mail posting sent to group July 28)
Gil Goodson seeks to secure his happiness by winning the ultimate trivia and puzzle contest and moving away to escape shame and bullying and (hopefully) false accusations.
Great for readers who enjoyed Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and who can suspend disbelief and use their imaginations well. While reading it I thought it was too similar to Dahl to not be deliberate. I was relieved that Feldman wrote in the author notes at the end of the book that Gollywhopper was written for those who wanted more adventures like Charlie's. Since there are other issues, I didn't bother worrying too much about whether this homage to the clever classic was reason enough to disqualify the book.
The scenes are outrageous and ridiculous on purpose, and appropriate for the context, and probably fit in with children's imagination and wishes for games and environment created just for them. I didn't find the characters to have enough depth for the Thumbs Up award, but can definitely see the appeal to younger readers. Rocky and his parent needed more backstory to be believable. I would put the appeal starting younger than 12 (9?) and have this book in our J Fic section. The puzzles were fun to figure out on the way. Gollywhopper could bring young readers to Dahl. Fun, but NAY.