Belly Up

  Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

12 year old Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it's claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain't the polar bear's lunch. Dealing with the zoo's top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry's death disappear like yesterday's paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle's head of operations who hates kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer's father, who has more concern for the dough he's raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions or Henry won't be the only animal in the zoo to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, they had better make sure they want to know what they want to know because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can't be kept in a cage!

Discussion Questions

  1. Would you want to visit Fun Jungle? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think that Fun Jungle is a good environment for the animals? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think about zoos in general? Should all animals be free, or are there really good reasons to keep some locked up?
  4. Before the mystery was solved, who did you think killed Henry?
  5. Who is your favorite character in the story? Why?
  6. Who is your least favorite character in the story? Why?
  7. Do you think it was hard for Teddy to get used to living in Texas at Fun Jungle after living in the Congo? Which place would you rather live?
  8. Summer and Teddy are friends but come from different backgrounds. Which lifestyle would you rather have, Teddy’s or Summer’s. Why?
  9. Do you think Teddy and Summer remain friends? Why?
  10. Would you rather have Teddy or Summer as your friend? Why?
  11. Do you like J.J. McCracken? Do you think he is a nice person? Why?
  12. What are your feelings about Doc? Do you consider him a villain or a hero? Why?
  13. What kind of animal do you think would make a better mascot than Henry?

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