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Bear Bottom

Part of FunJungle
LIST PRICE $17.99

In the seventh novel in New York Times bestselling Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series, Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth to solve the disappearances of endangered bison and an irreplaceable necklace.

Teddy Fitzroy, his family, and some other FunJungle employees have been invited to visit a bison ranch just outside Yellowstone National Park that FunJungle’s owner, J.J. McCracken, is considering purchasing. But as usual, trouble isn’t far behind.

The ranch’s endangered bison have been mysteriously disappearing. Then a massive local grizzly bear named Sasquatch breaks into the house, causing chaos. In the aftermath, Kandace McCracken discovers that her exceptionally expensive sapphire necklace has vanished.

Was it stolen? Or did Sasquatch eat it? (And if so, can it be recovered?) And what’s been happening to the bison?

With over a dozen suspects, it’s up to Teddy to detangle this hairy situation, before his family or friends—or any more expensive objects—become dinner.

Reading Group Guide for

Bear Bottom

By Stuart Gibbs

About the Book

In the seventh novel in the New York Times bestselling FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs, Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth to solve the disappearances of endangered bison and an irreplaceable necklace. Teddy, his family, and some other FunJungle employees have been invited to visit a bison ranch just outside Yellowstone National Park that FunJungle’s owner, J.J. McCracken, is considering purchasing. But as usual, trouble isn’t far behind. The ranch’s endangered bison have been mysteriously disappearing. Then a massive local grizzly bear named Sasquatch breaks into the house, causing chaos. In the aftermath, Kandace McCracken discovers that her exceptionally expensive sapphire necklace has vanished. With over a dozen suspects, it’s up to Teddy to detangle this hairy situation, before his family or friends—or any more expensive objects—become dinner.

Discussion Questions

The following questions may be utilized throughout the study of Bear Bottom as reflective writing prompts, or alternatively, they can be used as targeted questions for class discussion and reflection.

1. Pause after reading the book’s opening and learning that Teddy and his family have finally left FunJungle for a vacation. What do you predict will be the most exciting part of this change of scenery for Teddy? What challenges would a mystery in this new location present?

2. Teddy tells readers, “I always thought that FunJungle attracted an unusual number of dumb tourists. But at Yellowstone, I discovered that there were dumb tourists everywhere.” Does learning this surprise you? What makes such behavior so disappointing? Do you think social media is to blame? Why does getting attention online sometimes make people behave poorly? Explain your answers using examples from the book and your own life.

3. For Teddy and Summer, the trip to Yellowstone is their first excursion outside of FunJungle as a couple. Are there any ways that traveling with both of their families could be a challenge? If so, what might those be?

4. When a girl visiting with her family recognizes Summer, her brother tells her, “‘It’s obviously not her. Do you really think Summer McCracken would be driving around Yellowstone in that car?’” Do you think Summer’s trick to hide her identity proves to be a clever one? Are there ways in which having to deny who you are becomes a burden? Are there any possible benefits?

5. When Summer and Teddy’s father attempt to get Morton, a Yellowstone tourist, to leave the elk alone, he tells them, “‘I saw people getting way closer than this to plenty of animals today!’” In what ways does Morton demonstrate he is behaving like a classic “touron”? In your opinion, does Morton get what he deserves? Explain your answer.

6. After spending so much time in the scenic Texas hill country, Teddy still finds himself in awe of the West Yellowstone landscape. Why do you think he finds it so striking? What’s the most visually beautiful place you’ve visited? What did you enjoy about it?

7. From what you learned in your reading of Bear Bottom, what makes American bison so unique and special? Were you aware that there are ranches dedicated solely to raising them?

8. As they arrive at the Oy Vey Corral, Teddy and Summer are introduced to Melissa and Evan Krautheimer, the teenage children of Sidney and Heidi Krautheimer. In your opinion, what would be the best part of growing up on a ranch like theirs? What might be the greatest challenges?

9. Consider Summer’s reaction to her father telling the group, “‘I’m thinking about buying the Oy Vey Corral.’” Do you think she’s right to be concerned? Do you believe J.J. really wants their input on the project, or might he have an ulterior motive? Explain your answers.

10. After the group’s first sighting of Sasquatch the grizzly, Sidney Krautheimer tells them all, “‘Sasquatch is nothing to worry about. He comes around most nights and we’ve never had an issue with him.’” Though grizzlies rarely attack humans unless provoked, consider your reaction to seeing a bear so close and in person. How do you believe you would respond?

11. After Teddy agrees with Summer that the Oy Vey Corral would be a fantastic location for a safari lodge, Heidi tells him, “‘There’s another reason we invited you here besides the lodge.’” How does Teddy react to learning that the ranch needs his sleuthing skills to help solve the mystery of disappearing bison? Why does this announcement make his parents appear tense? Though Teddy’s past investigations have been incredibly successful, why are his parents continually resistant to his participation in solving them?

12. After listening to her brother complain about where they live and how remote it is, Melissa tells him, “‘You have no idea how lucky you are, Evan. Can you imagine what life was like for our great-great-grandparents out here?’” Do you agree or disagree with Melissa’s stance? How might life be different today versus Melissa’s great-great-grandparents’ time? Explain your answers.

13. Melissa offers to show Summer and Teddy the secret storage area once used to hide booze under the kitchen. How does learning that the Krautheimer home was once used as a way station for bootlegging make the visitors more interested in the home? How does this space ultimately play a larger role in one of the mysteries to be solved?

14. When Summer’s mom, Kandace, arrives at the Oy Vey Corral, J.J. notices her jewelry and mutters, “‘Dang it. . . . Why’s she wearing that?’” Consider J.J’s frustration with Kandace for wearing such an expensive necklace on this trip. Do you think he’s overreacting, or does he have a right to be concerned?

15. Though Evan prefers to spend his time playing video games and seemingly shows little interest in his family’s ranch, he is a gifted tracker. What might readers infer from this information?

16. What do you think would be the best part of getting to participate in an investigation such as this one? Can you think of any drawbacks to this kind of experience?

17. After Sasquatch’s invasion and destruction of the Krautheimers’ home, J.J. is convinced the grizzly has eaten Kandace’s necklace. Consider his rationale for this argument. Do you think his logic is solid? Do you believe tracking the bear by following his scat is the best way to retrieve the lost jewels? Explain your answers.

18. When describing the value of the necklace, J.J. reluctantly tells Teddy, “‘The fact is, I got a great deal on it when I first bought it for her. It was the deal of a lifetime.’” Why does J.J. choose to have Teddy investigate the missing necklace instead of going to the police? What are the benefits to this arrangement? Can you think of any risks?

19. Throughout Bear Bottom, readers learn a great deal about American bison, bears, elk, wolves, and other animals found in Yellowstone National Park. Were there any animal facts that excited or surprised you? What animals would you like to learn more about?

20. Why does Jericho, the Spooners’ foreman, try to blame the teens for planting the bear-baiting items in the Spooners’ garage shed? What might be the true culprit’s motivation?

21. What makes Teddy’s discovery of the hidden closet and the use of the mysterious RV on the same morning so special?

22. After Summer learns that Teddy has been secretly hired by her father to retrieve her mother’s missing necklace, Teddy apologizes for not telling Summer the whole truth as he was unsure what the right thing was to do. Summer reminds him, “‘We are a team, Teddy. We have to be straight with each other.’” Do you agree or disagree with Summer? How does being honest with one another ultimately benefit them both? Explain your answers.

23. At the end of Bear Bottom, readers discover that J.J.’s former choices and actions lay the groundwork for one of the mysteries. Does knowing the motivation behind the theft of the necklace make the crime any more acceptable? Explain your answer.

24. Once again, Teddy and Summer have solved an important case. Predict what new mystery will come their way in the next installment of the FunJungle books.

Extension Activities

1. After two years of living and working at FunJungle Adventure Park, Teddy and his parents travel to Yellowstone National Park for a much-needed vacation. Besides being the world’s first national park and home to the most famous geyser in the world, Yellowstone is rife with natural wonder. Working with a small group, research Yellowstone facts. Consider learning more about the following:

Where is the park located?

How large is it?

What is it best known for?

What wildlife is it home to?

How many visitors does it receive annually?

What are the greatest challenges faced by the park and the park service?

What are five unusual fun facts uncovered from your research?

Continuing your work as a team, create a Yellowstone exploration pamphlet for other young people lucky enough to visit the park. Be sure the guide offers tips on what to do and what not to do while visiting.

2. Readers learn that the Shoshone tribe, sometimes referred to as the Sheep Eaters, are native to the Yellowstone area. Using library resources, learn more about the Shoshone tribe and the Sheep Eater War in the 1800s, being sure to discover the following:

Why were the Shoshone tribe called Sheep Eaters?

What land did the Shoshone inhabit?

What was the outcome of the Sheep Eater War?

What did the US government do to tribal members?

Has the government provided any reparations for their actions?

Then engage in a class discussion about what you’ve learned; to add to your knowledge, select another Indigenous group of people in the US and learn more about the history of that tribe.

3. The Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Branch of the National Park Service is at the center of the conservation and preservation work highlighted in Bear Bottom. Using library resources and the Internet, research to learn more about the service’s essential work and the outcomes of their endeavors.

Be sure to learn the following:

What are the specific programs this branch oversees?

What makes each of these programs unique?

Who are other collaborators on these programs?

What are some of the biggest challenges faced?

After gathering this information, create a visual presentation that illustrates your findings.

4. While reading Bear Bottom, readers learn that scat, or animal droppings, can be used to identify animals as well as learn their habits and patterns. Begin by reading “How to Identify Wildlife” from the BBC’s Discover Wildlife: https://www.discoverwildlife.com/how-to/identify-wildlife/how-to-identify-animal-droppings/. After reading the article, look for additional information shared by US parks and zoos to learn more about ways scat is identified and tracked. Note the facts you find most interesting; after you’ve collected your “scoop on poop,” be sure to share your findings with others.

5. In Bear Bottom, readers learn about Yellowstone’s incredible geological features, including geysers like Old Faithful. Using library and Internet resources, research the following:

Where in Yellowstone is Old Faithful located?

When was it discovered and by whom?

What are the most unique features of this geyser?

How many geysers does Yellowstone have?

How is climate change threatening this natural splendor?

Taking what you’ve learned, discuss possible solutions and ways that students can actively help with climate change issues.

6. Readers learn that in the late 1800s there were sixty to eighty million bison in North America, but they were nearly wiped out in the space of a few decades by European settlers and the government’s campaign against Native Americans. Learn more about American bison using the following resources:

https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/American-Bison

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/american-bison

After these readings, research more about today’s conservation efforts for the American bison. Using a digital product of choice, take the new knowledge you’ve gathered and create a visual that can be showcased and shared with others.

This guide was created by Dr. Rose Brock, an associate professor at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Brock holds a Ph.D. in Library Science, specializing in children’s and young adult literature.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. For more Simon & Schuster guides and classroom materials, please visit simonandschuster.net or thebookpantry.net.
Photo courtesy of the author

Stuart Gibbs is the New York Times bestselling author of Charlie Thorne and the Last EquationCharlie Thorne and the Lost City, the FunJungle and Moon Base Alpha series, and the Spy School series. He has written screenplays, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows, been a newspaper columnist, and researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents). Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he’s up to at StuartGibbs.com.

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