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Have you ever been accused of something awful that you did not commit? Was the evidence leading up to your conviction? Well, Teddy Fitzroy, the protagonist in Poached by Stuart Gibbs, succumbed to this unfortunate fate!

Teddy is twelve years old and lives in a trailer right outside of the world’s largest zoo, Funjungle. After an encounter with the school’s bully, Vance, Teddy’s life gets turned around. The one and only prized koala, Kazoo, goes missing, and the entire zoo suspects Teddy for stealing the koala!

Poached is an adventure-packed mystery book delicately garnished with sprinkles of humor. Gibbs engages the reader with several twists and cliff-hangers, beautifully weaving in the concept of perseverance! After being filmed entering and exiting the koala exhibit—with a full backpack— Teddy is convicted of stealing Kazoo. No one believes

Teddy, and the police find koala droppings and fur in his room. The entire zoo suspects Teddy and won’t let go of their suspicions. With all of the evidence leading up to his conviction, Teddy is determined to prove his innocence and find the real thief.

Even if Teddy’s innocence seemed impossible to prove, his loving parents stayed by his side the whole time. Since Teddy’s parents work at the zoo, they tried their best to find the real thief: from searching security cameras to locating possible suspects. Even if Teddy’s parents want him to stay out of the crime scene, Teddy insisted on helping out. One person who is entirely against Teddy and accuses him of committing the crime is Large Marge. She is the head guard and will believe any evidence she gets, even if it is false!

Teddy’s determination to find the real thief made him successful! He would dress up as Funjungle mascots to stay undercover and walk around to find anything suspicious. Being ever so determined, he constantly begged his parents to show him the security feed. After watching the recordings repeatedly, Teddy and his parents figured out that Kazoo was stolen four days before Teddy’s accusation. To replace the stolen koala, the thief placed a realistic-looking stuffed animal instead!

I stumbled upon Poached during an impromptu trip to the bookstore. As I scanned through the store shelves, the picture of a sad koala caught my attention. I love koalas, and the cover instantly piqued my interest. Koalas are threatened and harmed. The book sheds light on the fact that the koala population is dwindling. Gibbs chose this precious animal to show that their species need protection from habitat destructors and koala-nappers.

“While I was thrilled to see Marge get dressed down and hugely relieved to be proved innocent, I was still worried about Kazoo.” reflects Teddy’s concern for the kidnapped koala, even though he was successful in proving his innocence. Packed with a valuable message of grit and perseverance, Poached is the epitome of the dire need to protect and preserve the animal population.

If you like mystery books with the perfect blend of humor, Poached is the right book for you! I would recommend this book to anyone who loves animals and detective work. Poaching and habitat destruction require some thought– we need to prevent it at any cost! If we can all live in harmony with these precious animals and leave behind our selfish interests, our world will be a much better place.

Poached by Stuart Gibbs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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