This is the second book in a series about 12-year-old Teddy Fitzroy who lives with his parents in a Texas zoo. I had not read the first book (BELLY UP), but Teddy fills you in along the way as to what happened in that first adventure. As the cute cover hints, this is about Teddy being accused of stealing the zoo’s prized koala, on loan from Australia. It’s a bumpy ride as Teddy sneaks around trying to uncover the real thief.
Although I loved the story, a few things made me pause. First we have another in what seems like an endless number of books with a bully. Maybe its just me, but I’m getting rather tired of the bully theme.
My other point is less troublesome, but as Teddy narrated the story I caught him saying words I don’t even think I used in college: effusive, inexplicable, transgression, and alliteration to name a few. I’ve never heard any 12-year-old use those words.
Other than that, Teddy is a convincing preteen with not only a crime on his hands, but all the other pressures of being a middle grade student. It’s enjoyable to read, though probably not for the reluctant reader with its long chapters and overall length.
PUBLICATION DATE:2014 WORD COUNT: 71,811 READING LEVEL: 5.2
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): 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.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT POACHED by Stuart Gibbs
- You’ll learn about koalas and other animals as the tale unfolds. I feel like I could work at a zoo now. Well, maybe with a bit more training.
- It’s a solid mystery that had me guessing right to the end. I changed my mind several times as to who stole the koala.
- Great read-aloud for a classroom or those nighttime moments before bed.
- It’s nice to have a book with two loving parents in the background. Teddy will need both to solve the mystery. For once in my recent reading I’m not hearing about a single parent family, an orphan, or an adopted child trying to adjust.
- All the plot points are neatly tied up by page 329. Of course there is room for more future Fun Jungle adventures and I’d welcome a third if the author chooses to go that route.
(Note: I don’t normally choose the very first line in a book as my favorite, but this one is a classic.)
I would never have been accused of stealing the koala if Vance Jessup hadn’t made me drop a human arm in the shark tank.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.