The Legend of Wally Gonkers By Matthew Lorentzen

This book takes place in a fanciful landscape of lemon meringue rocks made by a magical pieman and scattered about by thought thunking robots!  The main character, Wally, invents a sport which involves throwing golden goo balls at hoops positioned at the tops of those very tall mountainous rocks.  The players all wear helmets which allow them to bounce on their heads from one hill to another!  The winner – being the player who manages to bounce off all 300 hills.  The prize – to sit with the king and drink the ruby tears of a dragon –  an elixir for living a long healthy life.

All of the Konkers and Bonkers loved this game but no matter how many played, it was always Wally, who made it the farthest…all the way to hill 299.  Sadly, no one ever made it to the last hill.  Without the ruby tears of the dragon, Wally grew older and more feeble.  Depression overcame him when he realized he was no longer able to make the long jumps.  He retired from the game but it went on without him, though for 30 more years, no one ever won.  This disturbed the king, who wanted to see someone win.  He was certain that with the elixir, Wally would be able to do so.  Wally, being an honorable fellow, refused to cheat with the elixir but he did want to get back into the game for one more try as he had come up with an idea for winning.  The king agreed to let him try.  And what happened is magical.

This is a story about not giving up.  It is also a story about using you head (for something other than bonking) and about accepting help from others when they offer it to you.  Children will love the fun, rhyming verse by R.R. Howroar and the fantastic imagery by Tiffany England. Both author and illustrator have worked seamlessly together to create a fantastic blend of grit and wit and creativity.

Read all of Sybrina’s Children Picture Book Reviews here.

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