4th Grade and Up
After an escaped kangaroo starts a fire that burns down his house, Teddy Fitzroy accepts an invitation to go to Malibu with his girlfriend, Summer, and her mother, Kandace. He’s hoping to spend some time relaxing on the beach, but wherever Teddy goes, trouble isn’t far behind.
First, a massive dead whale has washed up on the beach—and before anyone can determine what killed it, it explodes. Doc, the head vet from FunJungle, suspects something fishy is going on and ropes Teddy and Summer into helping him investigate.
Then, Teddy stumbles upon yet another mystery involving tons of stolen sand. And the paparazzi start spreading rumors about Summer dating a celebrity, leading Teddy to question their relationship.
Without Summer as his trusted partner, can Teddy navigate the rough waters of this glitzy world and uncover what’s going on?
Taking place in Los Angeles, this story hits close to home. Literally. Stuart Gibbs’s portrayal of LA is spot on, down to our bumper-to-bumper traffic. I cheered when Teddy and the team visited Long Beach, my hometown.
Do you remember in the first FunJungle book, “Belly Up,” when the bloated corpse of Henry the Hippo was accidentally dropped from a great height during his funeral? Well, that was child’s play compared to the disgustingly detailed description of the whale corpse exploding. When I Googled ‘beached blue whale,’ I was hoping to find a decent picture of one so you could see how giant a blue whale is. I ended up finding videos of whales exploding. I am not sharing one of those videos. It is truly horrifying.
Like in all the FunJungle books, there’s a central mystery (the exploding whale) and a mini mystery on the side (the stolen sand). I was more invested in the stolen sand side story. I was dying to learn how and why someone would steal sand. Turns out sand is way more important than you realize.
The FunJungle series has addressed many environmental issues over the years, but this story’s marine environment issues felt heavier than the others. Our oceans are in so much trouble, and it’s all humanity’s fault.
Here’s a list of the ocean’s biggest problems:
- Pollution (oil spills, runoff from storm drains, illegal dumping of chemicals, millions of pounds of plastic garbage)
- Climate change
I can’t think about the sad state our oceans are in without feeling guilty. I really shouldn’t feel as guilty as I do. My family recycles plastic, aluminum, and glass. We use reusable bags. I use a thermos and fill it from the tap instead of bottled water, and I no longer use plastic straws. But I still feel guilty every time I throw something away.
Sidenote: I’m currently writing an ocean-themed Maddie and Albert adventure. After reading this book, I feel obligated to feature whales. The question is, what species of whale should I write about?