Sunday, February 9, 2014

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

At times this terrific story made me gasp out loud. Henry the hippopotamus is found dead.  The vet suspects murder.  Theodore Fitzroy or Teddy lives at FunJungle with his parents.  Mum is a gorilla expert and dad is a wildlife photographer.  Teddy has had an exciting life up until now.  FunJungle is an amazing zoo but "after a few weeks, to keep myself amused, I'd had to resort to playing practical jokes, like giving the chimps water balloons - or switching the signs on the men's and women's restroom or replacing all the black jellybeans in Large Marge's lunch with rabbit poo."  Now it seems Teddy's days of boredom are at an end.  Henry is not just any old hippo - he is the zoo mascot.  There are toys, stationery and even a television show all based on Henry.  The fact that Henry himself was not a lovable hippo has been mostly overlooked by the zoo authorities.

Teddy sneaks into the autopsy.  He hears Doc explain there are holes in Henry's intestines which has led to peritonitis and his death.  "The possibility that Henry had been murdered alarmed me - though I have to admit, there was something exciting about it too."

Now the race is on to find the murderer.  Teddy teams up with the daughter of the zoo owner - Summer McCracken, but as the stakes get higher it seems Teddy himself might be the next victim.

Belly up is a thrilling story full of danger, crime and twists you could never anticipate.  There is a scene near the end involving the carnivores which made my hair stand on end. At the same time there are some very funny moments in this book too - one involving the body of Henry, a crane and hundreds of funeral spectators.

If you enjoy Belly Up you might also enjoy books by Carl Hiaasen.  Here is a review by Mr K.  Here are some questions you could use if you read this book to a class.

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