Sunday, January 8, 2012

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster, 2010


This is one of the books on the 2012 Lone Star Reading List, a list of 20 suggested titles for 6th, 7th and 8th graders, and before the list came out, it wasn't a book familiar to me. Always up for a good mystery, I quickly put it on hold at the library.

Twelve-year-old Teddy Fitzroy has a murder to solve. Henry the Hippo, the mascot of FunJungle, the huge. new impressive zoo where both of Teddy's parents work, has been found belly up in his pool. And, there is no shortage of people who are not exactly fans of Henry.

Teddy sneaks into the hippo's autopsy, which is how he discovers the hippo was murdered, something FunJungle is trying to cover up. He has attempts on his life, and finds himself working with the beautiful daughter of FunJungle's owner, although he's not always sure he can trust her. 

Gibbs used to work at the Philadelphia Zoo, and his knowledge of animals is evident. An engaging, strong mystery, I think the sprinkling of facts throughout this book may also help it appeal to readers who typically lean toward nonfiction. And, for the boys, there are several references to animal poop.

Reviewed from library copy



17 comments:

  1. Your last sentence made me laugh out loud!

    Becky

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  2. I know just the girl who needs this book. A reluctant reader, unless the book happens to be about animals!

    Thanks! I would never have found it otherwise.

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  3. I haven't heard of this. But I think my daughter would love it.

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  4. Did it seem age appropriate? I wonder if it's more for younger readers than 6h graders?

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    1. It could go a little younger, but I think its a strong choice for 6th and even 7th graders.

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  5. We read it last year because it was a Cybils finalist -- me, my fourth grader, and my sixth grader. The boys both enjoyed it but weren't passionate about it as they were with some of the other choices. I liked it but was a bit squicked by the funeral scene.

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    1. Yes, the funeral scene was little yuck.

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  6. This has been very popular with all of my students, and I really like the cover-- bright and upbeat without being too goofy and elementary.

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    1. I totally agree about the cover. Glad to hear your students are enjoying the book.

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  7. Do you think it would be okay for my 4th/5th graders?

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    1. SlJ and Booklist have reviewed it for grades 5-7 and 5-8(can't remember which was which). I think it depends on the kids - my hesitation is the "minor bad words," like crap.

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  8. Animals, mystery, and a kid. Sounds like a recipe for a great read. Have you read the Flavia de Luce series? Love 'em!

    Ali B.

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    1. I have heard so many good things about these books. They are on my TBR list - I'll bumpt them up! It's so true...so many books, so little time!

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  9. Stopping by as part of the Comment Challenge. I'm especially intrigued about this title -- haven't heard of it before, and it bears a little resemblance to my new MG novel coming in October called DON'T FEED THE BOY, about a boy who lives at the zoo (mom is zoo director and dad is elephant keeper) and wishes he didn't. My book also including a lot of animal facts, but is really about friendship and belonging (no mystery to solve). Good to know about BELLY UP. Thanks!

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  10. I keep seeing this book, but the animal poop is what finally has me sold! Thanks for the fun review!

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  11. Glad I stopped by as part of the comment challenge, Amy. This book looks like a lot of fun---great cover, too. I think that's kind of how I start out some days. Thanks for sharing the review---and for the blog post on the challenge itself. I totally forgot to do that on my blog which has been sitting idle for a couple weeks.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading this one last year. My review:
    http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=11982

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