Belly Up

Stuart Gibbs, Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8731-4
For the first 10 years of his life, 12-year-old Teddy's home was the Congo, where he lived with his parents, a gorilla researcher and a wildlife photographer. When civil war broke out, however, the family moved back to America; his parents now work at FunJungle, the world's largest zoo. When ornery zoo mascot Henry the Hippo dies, Teddy learns that he was murdered (after spying on the autopsy). No one believes him except Summer, the daughter of the Texas millionaire who owns FunJungle, and they work together to find the killer, even as someone is trying to silence Teddy himself. Animal facts are plentiful in Gibbs's debut novel, at times slowing the pace, but always offering interesting tidbits—sometimes of a scatological nature (for example, hippos habitually fire "streams of feces" at each other and occasionally people). A projectile pile of Henry's innards, a wild chase scene, and a new zoo addition bring this whodunit to a romping, if slightly gruesome, conclusion. A likable protagonist, a very kid-friendly brand of humor, and the outrageous setting should keep readers' interest, especially animal lovers. Ages 8–12. (May)
Reviewed on: 08/23/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-1-4169-8732-1
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4424-0639-1
Prebound-Glued - 294 pages - 978-1-61383-640-8
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