BOOK NAME: Belly Up
AUTHOR: Stuart Gibbs
Hippos may not be the cutest and cuddliest of creatures. They rank second behind the Cape buffalo on the list of the most dangerous African animals. They are often ill-tempered and messy beasts. Henry the Hippo was no exception, but Henry’s special title was mascot for Funjungle, a brand-new and extremely popular zoo/theme park. Shortly after arriving at Funjungle, Henry mysteriously died.
12-year-old Teddy is determined to find the cause of Henry’s sudden and unexpected demise. Teddy is the son of a renowned gorilla researcher and expert wildlife photographer. He spent 10 years of his life in the Congo, so he knows his animals. Henry’s death may not have been from natural causes. When Teddy secretly attends Henry’s autopsy, he discovers that Henry was murdered! A small, sharp object was placed in his food, and it poked holes in his digestive tract, eventually killing him. Teddy decides to try and apprehend the perpetrator of this heinous crime. However, the case quickly gets complicated. It turns out that Henry was not well liked by many people, all of whom are possible suspects in Henry’s murder. Not only that, the real murderer wants Teddy off his/her case, immediately! If Teddy does not solve the mystery soon, he might be the next casualty!
I have high praise for Belly Up. The element of mystery regarding Henry’s death kept my interest. As the story unfolded and new clues were discovered, I kept trying to guess the culprit. In a startling twist, the real murder was someone I had never guessed. The book was also very suspenseful. The killer made several attempts on Teddy’s life throughout the story. Those parts were very exciting. I liked how the book included an element of humor. Teddy often uses sarcasm and makes many funny comparisons and points. For example, he compares one security guard’s physique to that of a rhinoceros. The story was told in first person point-of-view, which added depth to the plot. Seeing the events through Teddy’s eyes, and knowing what he heard, smelled, saw, felt, and thought made it seem as if I was experiencing the story myself.