Thursday, June 29, 2017

SERIES THURSDAY: funjungle mysteries by Stuart Gibbs


12 year old Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it's claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain't the polar bear's lunch. Dealing with the zoo's top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry's death disappear like yesterday's paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle's head of operations who dislikes kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer's father, who has more concern for the dough he's raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions-- or Henry won't be the only one to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, the more the danger mounts -- because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can't be kept in a cage!


Stuart Gibb has written a thoroughly engaging and amusing mystery.  Setting this series inside an animal park was a brilliant move and it shows.  Teddy makes a great detective as well as a smart aleck, Teddy proves to be determined and unwilling to give up.  At first he wants the adults to investigate Henry's murder but when the police turn him away, his mother brushes him off, and the park itself covers it up, Teddy decides it's up to him to investigate.  He recruits the help of Summer McCraken, the daughter of the owner of FunJungle and together they manage to wreak havoc as they search for the answers that nobody seems to want them to find. I found myself flying through this book once I got started.  It's a great mystery with lots of suspects as well as twists and turns that made it unpredictable and delightful to read.  I read this aloud to a bunch of classes and they all loved it.


Teddy Fitzroy’s back for another zoo mystery—this time it’s a koala caper—in this action-packed follow-up to Belly Up, which Kirkus Reviews called “great fun.”

School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry.

Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit.

Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.


While I really enjoyed reading about Teddy's second adventure, there were a couple of things that bugged me.  The way Vance, the bully from school, seems to control everyone at school, including the principal really rubbed me the wrong way.  I mean, where were all the adults when Vance and his friends were getting ready to stuff Teddy's head in the toilet of a filthy bathroom.  Maybe it's because I work in a school and I know how hard the staff works to keep the school running well but it seems so stereotypical.  However, who am I to say there aren't schools where that sort of thing happens, bullying is an ongoing problem in most places after all.  Outside of the bullying though, I'm not a big fan of characters I like getting accused of things they didn't do, and Teddy gets accused of stealing the koala on loan from Australia.  Now admittedly Teddy has done plenty of things that make him a suspect, but Marge the security head for the park is so inept its annoying.  What I did like outside of the mystery itself was the way Teddy's parents supported him.  So many middle grade novels have either nonexistent parents or neglectful, uncaring ones, it was nice to read about some pretty cool parents.  A fun addition to the series, and as always its fun to learn more about some of the different animals.



When someone takes aim at Rhonda Rhino, FunJungle's pregnant (and endangered) Asian greater one-horned rhinoceros, the zoo steps up security measures in order to protect this rare animal and her baby.

But the extra security isn't enough;someone is still getting too close for comfort. Teddy and company start to suspect that whoever is after Rhonda is really after her horn, which is worth a lot of money on the black market.

For the first time ever, the head of the zoo enlists Teddy for help; for once, he doesn't have to sneak around in order to investigate, and the results are even more wacky, and even more dangerous, than ever before.


When I read mysteries one of my favorite things to do is to try to predict the ending, to see if I can figure things out before I get to the end.  Interestingly, the books I like the best are the ones that aren't so easy to predict, or the ones that I might get wrong or at least incomplete.  That is one of the things that I like the best about the funjungle mysteries by Stuart Gibbs.  After reading the first three books, I still haven't been completely right about the guilty parties.  And while I did get one of the villains in this book, I was stunned by who the other one turned out to be.  And of course, Teddy is entertaining as always, especially when he combines forces with Summer McCracken (Fun Jungle's owner's daughter).  And in addition to the fun mysteries and plentiful action, Gibbs also manages to integrate a lot of fascinating animal information into each story.

Teddy manages to get into more trouble than most kids and Marge's, a security guard, efforts to catch him doing something wrong (regardless of whether the evidence points his way or not).  And all this trouble certainly complicates his efforts to solve the mystery of who is taking shots at Rhonda, the pregnant rhino.  And the additional chaos caused by a vandal breaking into various eateries in the park which leads Marge right to his door gives Teddy another mystery to solve.  The various relationships between Teddy and his friends, Teddy and his parents (great relationships--this is one of the few middle grade books where the parents play an important role in the story without interfering in the main character's place in the story), as well as Teddy and Mr. McCracken all play an important role in the story.  Another fantastic mystery that middle grade readers are bound to enjoy.


Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth when the zoo’s newest addition goes missing—before she even arrives!

FunJungle is frenzied, awaiting the arrival of its most thrilling animal yet—Li Ping—a rare and very expensive giant panda that the zoo went to enormous lengths to secure. But when the truck transporting Li Ping shows up, its precious cargo has vanished into thin air. The FBI steps in to investigate, and Teddy is happy to leave the job in their (supposedly) capable hands. After all, FunJungle has never encountered a crime this serious. But when someone threatens to blackmail Teddy’s girlfriend, Summer, if he doesn’t solve the crime, his involvement in this mystery is no longer black and white.


I'm sad to say that I've finished this newest book in Gibbs's funjungle series.  I'm hoping there will be more because I've enjoyed them so much.  In this one, Li Ping, the panda coming to funjungle disappears from the truck that's bringing her to the park.  While Teddy is curious, he is more than willing to let the FBI handle the case.  But when someone blackmails him into investigating, Teddy quickly realizes that the FBI is focusing on the wrong things.  And when a man dressed as a panda threatens him, Teddy becomes even more convinced that the FBI needs to change their focus.  But the FBI is unwilling to listen to a 13-year-old, so with the help of his girlfriend, Summer, Teddy is forced to try to find the guilty party on his own.  Once again, Gibbs has created a fun mystery with plenty of twists and turns and lots of adventure.  And while everyone focuses on Li Ping's disappearance, Teddy also has another mystery on his hands: why the dolphins have started pantsing people, including himself. This is a delightful mystery series that middle grade readers are bound to enjoy.

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