Living with his Scientist parents who work at FunJungle theme park and zoo, one of the best in the world, is twelve-year old Teddy. Though his life is already somewhat unconventional, things take a big turn when the park mascot Henry the Hippo is found dead. While being the park mascot, Henry’s habit of shooting poop at his audience hadn’t won him any popularity contests. Sensing something fishy about Henry’s death, Teddy takes it upon himself to find out why the hippopotamus was found “belly up.” Along the way he meets Summer, and together they start to uncover the long list of possible suspects who could have killed Henry.
Gibbs’ story, set within the animal theme park, is full of interesting animal facts. Like Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot, Belly Up also addresses conflict between corporate and environmental protection values. While fun and engaging, there is some mild swearing and, at one point, vivid imagery involving an animal autopsy. Filled with potty humour and funny dialogue, and with a tiny hint of romance, Belly Up is an adventurous mystery that is both entertaining and suspenseful. A true delight from beginning to end.
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