Poached: Fun Jungle, Book 2

 
Engaging zoo sequel blends smarts, pranks, and animal facts.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers are exposed to habits and behaviors of koalas and sharks, zoo environments, and animal care and safety issues.

Positive messages

Poached offers positive messages about intelligence, animal treatment and rights, and integrity, even when a person's credibility is in doubt. Though the book plays with the idea of honesty in terms of situational ethics, there's a common, recurring theme about trying to get to the bottom of things and making sure the truth is discovered.

Violence & scariness

Poached deals with bullying, pranks that cause alarm and chaos, animals scratching or biting humans, and the use of violence to teach bullies a lesson or to escape from being wrongly held or accused. Though no injuries are very serious, both animals and humans face extreme peril at various points. There are a number of scuffles: A bully squeezes the shoulder of a 12-year-old to intimidate him on a couple of occasions; a man twists the arm of another man to escape being handcuffed; two middle school boys beat up two bullies; a guy is pummeled by another guy, his head hitting the other guy's face; a guy lands face-down in the toilet; a shark tank explodes, filling an empty tank with water (and sharks) and nearly drowning three people (who survive); a boy punches another boy in the face; and a security guard slips on some vomit and slides into a crowd of people, knocking them down.

Language

Minor insulting and/or threatening language throughout, such as "idiot," "moron," "I'm going to kill you," and so on. Gendered insults include multiple instances of mocking a woman for being 100 pounds overweight and describing boys or men in a few instances as "shrieking like a girl" to insult them.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Poached is a fast-paced, engaging mystery, the second in Stuart GibbsBelly Up series set at the zoo/theme park FunJungle. It involves a 12-year-old boy who faces some bullying throughout and who pulls pranks that cause mass chaos in a zoo, including vomiting, with animals being mildly mistreated or the discussion of possible past abuse. It includes the use of violence to teach bullies a lesson and to escape from being wrongly held or accused. In a few instances, kids lie or sneak around, but, overall, these tactics occur within a story that values intelligence, problem-solving, humor, knowledge, research, and uncovering the truth, as well as treating animals humanely and doing the right thing.

What's the story?

FunJungle has barely recovered from Henry the Hippo's death, when now-famed Kazoo the Koala has gone missing. Trouble is, the only person near the koala exhibit in the past several hours was Teddy Fitzroy, noted prankster, who's the 12-year-old son of the zoo/theme park's prominent biologist and wildlife photographer. Once again, Teddy must track down suspects, eliminate dead ends, and figure out who the real thief is before Marge, J.J. McCracken, daughter Summer, and even his own parents decide the evidence is too incriminating. Making matters worse, Teddy is now the target of a school bully, Vance Jessup, who has some pranks of his own cooking.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

POACHED is a fun, fast-paced novel that deftly blends a love of (and healthy respect for) animals, a passion for knowledge, clever turns, and the silly, if crass, mentality of a familiar species: the 12-year-old boy. Gibb manages to mix in facts about koala's nutrition and predatory shark behavior while creating an intriguing whodunit. Even though there are a few problematic fat jokes and enough slipping on vomit to last a lifetime, Poached is an exciting, visual read.

There are some situational ethics here parents may want to discuss. Teddy lies to some people but is honest with others. He sneaks around and commits crimes when necessary to clear his name. And the handling of the bully, though cinematic and satisfying, is not the advice we'd recommend in real life -- it results in fisticuffs. But these issues are handled thoughtfully enough to be more of a jumping-off place than a wrong turn. Poached is the rare book that puts a premium on knowing and doing and that spotlights an appreciation for science in the process. An especially great choice for kids who like animals and mysteries.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about honesty and trust. Why is Teddy honest with some people and dishonest with others? Does this make him untrustworthy overall? Why, or why not?

  • What kinds of things do boys in Poached do to get female attention? Does this seem like a realistic portrayal to you? What other types of things do boys do to get a girl's attention? Why do you think this is?

  • Does the way bullies are handled in Poached seem realistic? What advice would you give Teddy for facing a bully at school? 

Book details

Author:Stuart Gibbs
Genre:Mystery
Topics:Adventures, Science and nature, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date:April 8, 2014
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Poached: Fun Jungle, Book 2 was written by

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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