In this sequel to Belly Up (2010), 12-year-old trouble-magnet Teddy is still living at FunJungle, a massive zoo and amusement park, with his primatologist mother and wildlife photographer father.
The shenanigans resume when the school bully, Vance, forces Teddy to throw a fake arm into the shark tank at FunJungle. This has a large-scale snowball effect that positions Teddy as the key suspect in the theft of Kazoo, a koala on loan from Australia. With some behind-the-scenes help from friend (and crush) Summer, Teddy sets out to prove his innocence and find the real thief. Amid red herrings galore, Teddy follows leads that reveal the turbulent underbelly of greed and grudge within the park’s personnel. Teddy’s struggle against the mounting evidence becomes a race to prevent Kazoo’s imminent starvation. The ebullient romp is salted with animal facts, including the tidbit that koalas spend almost no time thinking due to the low nutritional value of their eucalyptus diet. Tomfoolery abounds, from vomiting tourists to a close call with the Toilet of Doom. Teddy delivers a knockout conclusion, coming to the understanding that the nature of the beast is not always what it appears.
This thrill-ride of a mystery is chock-full of hijinks for middle-grade sleuths and budding zoologists alike. (Mystery. 8-12)