The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Hello, welcome to a new (biweekly/weekly/once a month?) series; Middle Grade Monday. Where I will be posting mini reviews of the books I read to my class that I think anyone would like to read. I teach 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade and one of my favorite parts of the day is reading aloud to them after lunch. I love finding new books to read to them, and occasionally reading a book that I loved reading when I was their age. I get so happy when I’ve picked a good one and they get invested in to the story. Now on to the mini review.


Gil Goodson’s future happiness depends on winning the Golly Toy & Game Company’s ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised that the family can move away from all the gossip, false friends, and bad press that have plagued them ever since “The Incident”. Inside the toy company’s fantastic headquarters, Gil will have to master trivia, solve puzzles, and complete physical stunts—and he’ll have to do better than all of the other kids competing.

Oh, and did we mention that Gil’s every step—and every mistake—will be broadcast on national television? Hold on tight, because the ride of his life is about to begin!



When I first picked this book up I wasn’t sure the kids were going to like it. When I started read it I was afraid it was going to go completely over there heads. (Some of it did but it just made for good discussion.) I thought they wouldn’t get invested.

I was wrong.

My whole class loved this book. When reading time was over they would beg me to read more. The puzzles the kids had to solve during the game were great, and if I were to read this book again with a new set of kids I would take the time to let them try to figure out the solutions before reading on.  The plot was way better than expected, in fact I couldn’t predict some of what happened.

Personally, I really enjoyed this book and the fact that my class got so invested in it was amazing. It was really light but exciting. It does have a little bit of a Charlie in the Chocolate Factory vibe to it with the world building and all. The toy factory sounds incredible.


Four out of five mini hedgehogs


Do you ever read middle grade novels? If you don’t, why not?


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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This book met all of my expectations. It was funny, cute, and fast moving. I think this book has an excellent message that everyone needs to hear. It’s a great reminder of how every choice we make has the ability to change someone else’s life. This book also deals with some very relevant topics, like racism, and immigration.


Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


Favorite things:

Dual point of views. They were amazing. Daniel and Natasha had very distinct voices, something that I feel like is often lost in YA dual POVs novels. I especially liked all of the chapters from minor/side characters povs. I loved seeing that outside perspective and how those characters decisions really affected Daniel and Natasha’s day. My favorite was Irene, we had a total of less than 10ish pages with her, but I found myself thinking about her and caring about her almost as deeply as I cared about the main characters.

The plot. The whole book takes place over the course of 12 hours so of course it moves quickly. That being said I never felt like it was rushed.

That ending. This belongs in my favorite and not so favorite things. This ending made me cry from sadness and happiness on literally the same page.

Not so Favorite things:

There’s only one thing that I didn’t like. It’s the one question that is left unanswered. What happened to her and Bev, her best friend?

Some favorite quotes:

“I didn’t know you this morning, and now I don’t remember not knowing you.”

“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”

The quills:


Yep, the f word is used a fair amount.

Physical romance?

There are some intense kisses, but it’s all PG13



Will you cry?

I shed a couple of tears and had to resits the urge to throw the book at one point.

Overall rating?

Five out of Five hedgehogs.

The Author:

Nicola Yoon, be sure to check out her website.

Her debut novel, Everything, Everything is getting a movie! It comes out this year.

Have you read The Sun is Also a Star? If so who do you think you are most like, Daniel or Natasha?

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