Friday, September 5, 2014


Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster, 2014  330 pgs
Grades 5-8

Teddy Fitzroy is the only young person residing at FunJungle, an amazing zoological park and tourist attraction in Texas.  His parents both work for the park, which affords him privileges not available to the common patron.  As in his previous adventure (Belly Up, 2010), Teddy become involved in a mystery.  This time new and rare attraction Kazoo the Koala, who is on loan from Australia, goes missing.  Unfortunate for Teddy, all the evidence points to him.  He must try to figure out the identity of the koala kidnapper all while avoiding the head of security, Large Marge, who is out to get him.  Making matters worse, Teddy is struggling to fit in at school and dealing with the school bully.  His investigation involves many suspicious characters, behind the scenes zoo activities and running around in an over-sized koala suit.  After a perfectly hair-raising and hilarious climax the perpetrator is satisfactorily captured and Teddy found innocent.  More adventures in the FunJungle series are hinted at by book's end.

Poached is a perfectly satisfying and readable mystery.  It is the second in the FunJungle series, but stands on its own and does not require previously reading Belly Up.  The many possible suspects help to make the book fun to try to guess the kidnapper, but there are not too many to keep straight.  The mystery is lightened up by moments of humor, bumbling security officers and madcap chases.  This is not a scary mystery or one too complex to figure out.  The mystery is solid, the kidnapper is "gettable", and Gibbs never gets too intense.  Poached is a great choice for kids who have to read a mystery, but don't think they like them.  It will appeal to all levels of readers and both boys and girls.  Animal lovers will be especially attracted to this title.  Who doesn't love a koala?  The koala is certainly a draw and readers will learn all about their behaviors and life style; I know I did!  Wild animals do not make good pets, especially koalas, who have a very specific diet.  I only wish FunJungle really existed.  It sounds like a great place to visit!

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