A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Game -- the third mystery in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs (Spy School) -- is about hunting, both legal and illegal. There's extensive, nuanced discussion of hunting and the ways it can both help and hinder conservation efforts. A 12-year-old boy is manipulated by a powerful adult to deceive his parents and put himself in harm's way to try to find out who's shooting at an endangered animal in the zoo. There are some cartoonish stereotypes, including a shrill, overweight female security officer and a manipulative wealthy businessman. Some of the adults are very harsh and aggressive when dealing with children.
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What's the story?
Everyone at FunJungle is horrified when someone takes a shot at Rhonda, an endangered Asian greater one-horned rhino in the final days of her lengthy pregnancy. Twelve-year-old Teddy, whose parents work at the zoo, suspects someone is trying to get Rhonda's horn to sell on the black market. But who? Teddy's efforts to sift through suspects are complicated by the fact that he's suspected by a security guard of being behind a series of disastrous break-ins at eateries around the safari park. As the zoo's staff trys to figure out the best way to protect their rhinos, the persistent poacher is putting everyone in danger -- including Teddy.
Is it any good?
Animal lovers, thoughtful conservationalists, and fans of whodunits will find this zoo mystery an absorbing, exciting read. BIG GAME offers an impassioned argument for protecting endangered animals as part of a multifaceted look at hunting and conflicting philosophies about wildlife management. Stuart Gibbs throws in plenty of juvenile humor (often in the form of animal poop) to keep the story light and fun.
The storytelling can be uneven: A nighttime chase through stampeding animals is gripping, but another chase high above a crocodile pit feels confusing and forced. Teddy seems a smart, independent kid, but often he seems to be reacting rather than taking initiative on his own. Still, it's an engaging mystery that challenges readers to think long and hard about their relationship with wildlife, both in sanctuaries and in the wild.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way hunting and poaching are addressed in the story. Did you learn anything that changed your view of hunting or poaching?
How do you think this book compares with others in the series? Is it as good? Is it as funny?
Some of the adults treat Teddy very unfairly. Do you think these characters are at all realistic or like any adults you know?
- Author: Stuart Gibbs
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 13, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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