Teddy Fitzroy is a prankster who finds entertainment at the zoo his parents work at by giving monkeys water balloons or getting the security guards to chase after him for being places he's not supposed to be. But when the Mascot, Henry the Hippo, turns up dead Teddy decides to sneak into the auditorium where the autopsy is being done. He overhears that Henry was murdered and begins an investigation of his own. There are plenty of suspects and with the help of a girl, Summer, the two smart kids work out the clues to discover who the real culprit is in this fun mystery.
The wise-cracking Teddy who is fascinated with animals (and their poop) manages to get into all sorts of scrapes that should appeal to kids. The action is broken with sections that describe zoos, poachers, animals and slows the action. I wish the author had worked these long sections in with more dialogue and showed rather than listed several pages of facts. Luckily there are not too many sections like this but it kept it from being a much better novel. Also, the ending was rushed and the hippo funeral was unbelieveable and at odds with the message of treating animals with respect. I don't know if young readers will notice these subtle contradictions - I think they will be caught up in the mystery and plot twists.
There are three swear words from adults that aren't necessary and are out-of-character; they are spoken by his level-headed Mom, the Archbishop, and Teddy. Don't read the ending, it will spoil the twists if you know what happens. I have a bad habit of reading the ending...
5.6 Reading Level
3 out of 5 Smileys