Sunday, March 10, 2019

Book Review: Lion Down by Stuart Gibbs (FunJungle #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, plenty of fun
Cons: Gets close to lecturing a couple of times; characters introduced here could be better rounded
The Bottom Line:
Was mountain lion framed?
Teddy is in race to save
Fast paced and fun book

Framing a Lion

Over the last four books in the FunJungle series, we’ve seen Teddy Fitzroy solve mysteries involving all kinds of exotic animals inside this zoo/amusement park combo.  However, the animal in danger in Lion Down is actually outside the park.

While FunJungle is located in a mostly uninhabited area of Texas, there are some larger estates and ranches that border the park’s property.  Living in one of those is Lincoln Stone, a radio and TV news personality that is known for saying very controversial things.  He has a dog he loves, and, unfortunately, that dog has been killed.  Lincoln is quick to blame it on the mountain lion that roams in the area, but the agent of the Department of Fish and Wildlife put in charge of the case doesn’t think that’s true.  Thanks to Teddy’s reputation for solving puzzles at FunJungle, the agent turns to Teddy for help.  Teddy agrees that the evidence left behind doesn’t add up.  Can he figure out what happened?

Meanwhile, Teddy and Summer, his girlfriend, are asked to figure out why the giraffes in FunJungle get sick every Monday.  Will this case distract them from saving the mountain lion?

As you can see, there is plenty happening here.  The two mysteries weave in and out of each other, each providing their own clues and some very funny scenes before Teddy figures them out.  The climax is epic, with a page turning race to save the day.  Oh, I identified several things that were going to come into play in the climax as I read the book, but I couldn’t figure out how or who the culprit was until I got there.

The books in this series always balance the mystery with information on the very real dangers the featured animals are facing in our world.  I did feel this one missed the balance a little bit, with a few passages reading more like lectures than normal.  I doubt kids will notice or mind, however.

Likewise, I felt that some of the characters introduced in this book were flattered than normal for the series, bordering on caricature.  But again, I think this is something adults will notice but kids won’t mind.

The series has quite a few characters.  While some of the supporting characters don’t get much page time, it is fun to see them again.  Teddy and Summer are strong leads.  Yes, Teddy is the star of the series, but Summer is just as an important part.  We get to see a different side of Summer’s father, the owner of FunJungle, in this book, and I still love Teddy’s parents.

I already mentioned the humor, but I have to talk about it again.  While there are some serious and suspenseful moments, there are also several very funny scenes in this book that will have you laughing as you read.  Yes, some of them involve the usual suspects (fans of the series will know who I mean), but that didn’t make them any less delightful.

It’s always fun to visit the world of FunJungle.  It’s the next best thing to getting to go in person, if, you know, the park were real.  Lion Down will certainly please the many fans of this series.

Enjoy more visits to FunJungle with the rest of the series.

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


  1. This is a very busy read -- lots of fun action! Teddy Fitzroy a mystery solving bear! I imagine kids love this creative series.

  2. I like the mystery aspect of this and that it's set in Texas. But I like my characters fleshed out more.

  3. I've never heard of this series. Sounds like a fun one.

  4. I have gotten behind in this series having only read the first two. Your review has me scrambling to catch up. Stuart Gibbs always delivers.

  5. Mysteries are always fun and this sounds like no exception. Thanks for the review.

  6. My boys love Stuart Gibbs' Spy School series, but they haven't read this one. We'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

  7. I love Stuart Gibbs' Spy School books - hadn't read any of his Fun Jungle series and was just looking over a couple on our library's online catalog. You've inspired me to request a title (or two...)

  8. I have read other books by Stuart Gibbs, but I haven't read any in this series. Thanks for sharing. Great to hear your thoughts.