The fifth installment in the popular FunJungle novel series, Stuart Gibbs’ Lion Down recounts the further adventures of 13-year-old Teddy Fitzroy, a precocious amateur sleuth with a profound love for animals and a flair for solving mysteries that have left the adults around him scratching their heads. When the giraffes in FunJungle, the outdoor animal preserve where Teddy lives with his parents, all become inexplicably ill, the facility’s owner, J. J. McCracken, asks for Teddy’s assistance in finding the culprit. After Lincoln Stone, a popular conservative radio personality, places a bounty on a wild mountain lion that he believes is responsible for the death of his pet dog, the local citizens go on a hunting frenzy across the wilderness around the park. Was the mountain lion really responsible for the dog’s death? Are the sick giraffes and the murdered pet somehow linked? To answer these questions, Teddy and his girlfriend, Summer, must face a sadistic assistant principal, a hotheaded environmental activist, a park full of bloodthirsty poachers, and a stampeding rafter of wild turkeys. In the end, the two young sleuths uncover the surprising answers to both mysteries, saving both the ailing giraffes and the falsely accused mountain lion in the process. As in the earlier volumes in the series, Teddy is a positive role model for young readers, a compelling embodiment of patience, humility, and the refusal to judge other based on stereotypes or first impressions. A fast, frenetic, humor-filled adventure story, Lion Down will provide fans of the series with valuable insights about the importance of caring for animals and the challenges involved in balancing our own needs with the needs of the non-human creatures all around us.
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.