Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Poached by Stuart Gibbs (FunJungle #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery, characters, and humor
Cons: One or two minor things, but I'm not a quibbler
The Bottom Line:
Missing koala
How did Teddy get the blame?
It's page turning fun

Kazoo, the Kidnapped Koala

I have been a fan of Stuart's books since I read his very first book several years ago.  While I have loved all of them, I've been hoping we'd return to the world of FunJungle again.  We finally have in Poached, and the return trip was well worth waiting for.

This series is set at a zoo/amusement park deep in the heart of nowhere Texas.  Teddy Fitzroy, the main character, is the only kid who gets to live on the premises, and that's because his parents are both employees.  Just as the park was opening, he stumbled on evidence that the park's hippo mascot had been murdered.  Now he's about to find himself the center of another animal related crime.

When Kazoo, the koala that is on loan to FunJungle, is stolen, Large Marge, the head of park's security, only has one suspect - Teddy Fitzroy.  After all, the only person they have on the security cameras going into the koala habitat the night Kazoo went missing is Teddy.  Couple that with her vendetta again Teddy, and she doesn't want to search much further.

However, Teddy knows he didn't do it.  While he has done his share of pranks in the park, they were never this mean or vindictive.  Now he has to stay free long enough to prove his innocence.  Suddenly, facing Vance, the bully at his new school, sounds easy.

Everything I loved about that first book is back.  First, there is the setting.  While FunJungle did come across as a bit more of a zoo than a hybrid with an amusement park this time, that's a minor complaint.  The idea of being the only kid who lives at a zoo that is a major tourist attraction still appeals to the kid in me.  How much more would it appeal to kids?

Plus I love the characters.  The cast expands quite a bit since it is no longer summer and Teddy is in school.  They new characters are great.  However, I loved Teddy and his parents in the first book, and they are just as great here as they were then.  My only real complaint with this book comes in that department - Summer, the owner's daughter, wasn't in the book as much as I would have liked.  Really, it's a minor issue, however.

Then there's the plot.  It's fast moving and fun with some nice clues and red herrings before the reveal.  I felt like I should have figured it out before Teddy did because the clues where there, but I didn't.  Along the way, we get some very suspenseful scenes.

But there is comedy to balance it out.  I couldn't help but laugh at a few of the predicaments that Teddy managed to get himself into (and out of) over the course of the book.  And while his parents might have been a little lenient on him at times, that was my only complaint about their characters.  The middle grade audience will never even notice anything with his parents and laugh even harder than I did at these scenes.

I couldn't turn the pages of Poached fast enough, and I'm sorry to see it over.  Fortunately, the author is hard at work on the next animal mystery, so a return trip to FunJungle won't take quite as long as this one did.  Middle grade readers (and reluctant readers) will find themselves caught up in this fun story, and adults who love a good mystery will enjoy it as well.

After one visit, you'll definitely want more trips with the FunJungle series.

This is my entry for this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.  Be sure to check out the other entries.


  1. What a fun sounding premise! I had sadly not heard of this series but you have enlightened me, along with adding another title to my TBR list.

    1. Glad I could help add to the TBR pile. It's what I do. ;)

  2. This sounds right up my alley! I think I'll grab the first book now, while I wait for Poached to come out. Thanks for the recommend, and happy MMGM!