Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book Review: The FunJungle Collection by Stuart Gibbs

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery, laughs, characters
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Mysteries at zoo
Three entertaining novels
Fun for kids and up

Zoo Full of Exotic Animals, Danger, and Mystery

Sometimes, I hear an idea, and I’m surprised that no one has don’t it before.  That was the case with the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs.  I mean, a mystery series for middle schoolers set at a giant zoo?  Brilliant.  And his execution is just as great.  If you’ve missed these wonderful books, you can get caught up with the recently released FunJungle Collection.

The series started out with Belly Up.  Our main character is Teddy Fitzroy, who is living at FunJungle, the giant zoo theme park that has just opened in the middle of nowhere Texas.  He gets to live there because his mother is one of the zoologists in the park and his father is a famous nature photographer working for the park in between assignments that take him all over the world.  He’s learned all the ways to sneak around the park, and that’s why, late one night, he sees something that makes him think that Henry Hippo, the park’s mascot, has been murdered.  When no one will believe him, he starts investigating on his own.  Is he right?

Next up is Poached.  FunJungle has a new koala exhibit with the koala on loan from the Australian government.  When Teddy finds himself needing to hide out in the park (long story I’m not going to spoil), he ducks into the koala exhibit only to be accused of kidnapping the koala the next day.  Can he clear himself and keep an international incident from getting worse?

The most recent (for now) is Big Game, and the animal this time is a rhino.  In fact, someone has just taken a shot at the zoo’s pregnant rhino.  With the rhino’s horns worth a lot of money, the odds are the hunter will be back.  Can Teddy help stop him or her before one of these rare creatures gets killed?

With animals being that target of the crimes, it’s probably not too big a surprise that there are themes of conservation in the books.  That’s a wonderful theme because we should be taking care of the world and not needlessly and pointlessly destroying it and these animals.

However, these morals never once slow down the story.  The plots always start quickly and move along at a brisk pace until Teddy has figured things out.  And yes, the solution to the crime is always logical based on the clues Teddy has gathered.  I must admit that I’ve felt my heart start to race at some of the danger Teddy’s found himself in along the way.

But there are also laughs along the way in all three books.  In fact, Poached has one of my favorite openings lines ever, and that opening scene will definitely make you laugh.

The characters are wonderful as well.  They are fully developed and we’ve gotten to see them and some relationships grow over the three books.  Plus Teddy is blessed with a rarity in middle grade books – fun, caring parents who are responsible and try to keep him from getting into trouble.  Yes, Teddy still solves the case and gets into plenty of danger, but it’s nice to see parents who take their jobs seriously.

This set contains all three books published to date (Stuart is working on a fourth to feature Pandas) in hardcover.

So if you haven’t already found these wonderful books, buy the FunJungle Collection today.  Even if you don’t have a middle grader to justify the purchase, you’ll be glad you read them since they are enjoyable no matter your age.

Enjoy one, you'll enjoy all of the FunJungle series.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. It's great to see these in a collection. I haven't read them all but will do so after rushing out to get this complete set. Thanks for the heads-up.