Reading Group Guide Whale Done
A FunJungle Novel
By Stuart Gibbs About the Book
After an escaped kangaroo starts a fire at 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?Discussion Questions
1. At the opening of Whale Done
, when Summer tells the fire chief that FunJungle employees still in their onsite trailer homes are in danger, he tells her, “‘We’ll get them out. . . . Now leave this to us!’” (Chapter two) Why do Teddy and Summer have faith in the FunJungle fire department? What are some of the specific things that the firefighters have done to ensure safety of the park and the surrounding areas?
2. After hoping that Teddy was nowhere near the fire, his mother is not surprised to learn that he was very close by and tells him, “‘Of course you were. Any time there’s trouble, you’re right in the middle of it.’” (Chapter two) Do you find her response to be fair? Why or why not?
3. Teddy goes on to tell readers, “Ever since we had moved to FunJungle, I had attracted trouble like a magnet.” (Chapter two) Based on what you know about Teddy, why do you believe trouble keeps finding him?
4. Much like the coordinated efforts of the firefighters battling the blaze at the park, solving the mysteries of FunJungle has required Teddy to rely on the assistance of his friends. In what ways has Teddy benefited from the work of others?
5. Though his family didn’t own many possessions (largely due to living in a tent camp in the Congo for a decade while his mother worked there), Teddy shares his sadness as he states, “I had never been a big fan of the trailer, but still, it was home. And now it was gone.” (Chapter two) Based on Teddy’s distress, why is having a home so essential (regardless of its condition)? What are your favorite things about the place you call home?
6. Early in the novel, readers learn that Teddy’s home has been destroyed and that he has a kangaroo to blame for it. Given what you know about Teddy’s life and past experiences, does this surprise you? In what ways might a trip to Malibu with Summer and her mom be a welcome adventure? What challenges would you expect a mystery in this new location present?
7. When Binka, Summer’s mother’s friend and their host in Malibu, tells Summer, “‘with looks like this, you don’t need school,’” Summer retorts, “‘I like
school.’” (Chapter three) Why does Binka work so hard to convince Summer and her mother that Summer should take up modeling? What does Summer’s reaction to this idea indicate about Summer’s priorities?
8. For Teddy and Summer, the trip to Malibu is an opportunity to have adventures together as a couple. Offer some predictions of things that might go wrong during this California adventure for the pair.
9. Though the homeowners around the site of the beached whale want the body removed immediately, NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, plans to do an autopsy first. Why do you believe this organization feels it’s critical to further examine the cause of death for the whale?
10. After sharing that both he and Summer want to see the whale carcass, Teddy states, “The whale had become something of a tourist attraction. People had come from as far away as New Mexico to see it.” (Chapter four) How does learning that the whale’s corpse has become a spectator’s destination make you feel? Why do the authorities try to keep others at a distance?
11. How does learning about the sand theft from surfer Dave and others factor into solving this mystery? Why are Dave’s warnings and testimony not taken seriously at first? Why is sand erosion happening along the beachfront homes and in other places problematic?
12. After Doc gains Dr. Carson's permission to observe the whale’s autopsy, Summer asks if she and Teddy can accompany him. She declares, “‘We’ll behave ourselves . . . I promise.’” (Chapter four) Are there any reasons you can think of that might make Doc hesitant to allow them to do so? What are some of the benefits to having the pair along?
13. Doc tells the kids that the whale’s death isn’t considered a crime “‘but there may have been environmental factors that led to the whale’s death. If we can determine what those are, then maybe we can prevent more cetaceans from dying.’” (Chapter four) Summer believes that even if the whale’s death was caused by something in its environment, it still should be considered a crime. Do you agree? Explain your rationale. Who do you think would or should be responsible?
14. While out on the ocean trying to collect water samples to determine if the whale died from oil leaking from offshore rigs, Cass tells Teddy, “‘Sand is way more important than people realize. . . . In fact, these days it’s probably the most important building block of our civilization.’” (Chapter twelve) What are some of the ways coarse sand is used? Based on what you learned while reading Whale Done
, why is sand essential to our lives?
15. What do you believe would be the best part of participating in an investigation such as the one presented in Whale Done
? What would be some drawbacks to this kind of experience?
16. What makes blue whales special and worth protecting? Why is it important that we do more to protect them, as well as other sea life, from dangers created by humans?
17. Consider Cass’s reaction to the threatening men ordering them to turn over the collected water samples. Why is it so critical to Cass that she keep the water samples from them? What does she hope to prove, and what do you think of her choice?
18. Binka tells Summer’s mom, “‘That boy is a bad influence on your daughter. Maybe, back in Texas, it’s fine and dandy to let children investigate crimes, but here, we let the police do it. Teddy needs to back off and mind his own business.’” (Chapter seventeen) Why does Binka react so strongly to Teddy’s investigation? In what ways is Summer’s mother, Kandace, influenced by Binka’s opinion?
19. When the paparazzi report that Summer is in a relationship with Wynn, a beloved pop star, Teddy isn’t pleased. Consider Summer’s reaction to Teddy’s jealousy and explain if you think she was right or wrong.
20. Even though Trish is able to accomplish her job by generating social media attention and buzz for Summer, she does so by spreading a false rumor that Summer is dating Wynn, which could be called unethical. Do you approve or disapprove of this approach to gaining more followers? Why?
21. Throughout Whale Done
, readers learn a great deal about blue whales, as well as other important sea life. What were some animal facts that excited or surprised you?
22. Consider all the characters who have a part in the ultimate destruction and death of the blue whale that is found on the beach at the beginning of the novel. What role does each of these characters play in this act? Do you believe one party is more guilty than any of the others? Make a case for who you believe to be most responsible.
23. As the novel closes, Teddy and Summer have solved another important case. Predict what new mystery will come their way in the next installment of the FunJungle books. Extension Activities
1. In Whale Done
, readers begin to learn about the impact plastic has on Earth’s oceans and other waters. Begin by having students read the following National Geographic
Working with a small group, begin to research more on this topic, also focusing on the following:
o Why is plastic so problematic?
o In what ways can it be dangerous for ocean life?
o What efforts are being made to combat this problem?
o How can individuals make a difference?
o Are there any campaigns near you that deal with plastic (even in landlocked areas)?
o What are some promising alternatives to plastic production and consumption?
Continuing your work as a team, draft a plan for a plastic campaign to help educate people in your school or community about how a reduction in plastic use can make a profound difference to the environment.
2. In Whale Done
, readers learn that overfishing can have detrimental effects, and poorly managed fish farms can also pollute local waters. Using library resources, learn more about overfishing, being sure to research the following:
o What does overfishing mean?
o What are some areas where this problem has been identified?
o What is the typical outcome of overfished areas?
o How do local, state, or US government agencies regulate this issue?
As a culminating activity, engage in a discussion regarding what was learned and provide options for extending this learning.
3. At the opening of Whale Done
, it takes an extraordinary team of local fire stations, a squad of smoke jumpers, and forest fire helicopters assisting the FunJungle fire department to fully douse the blaze of the blaze that rages at the park and in the forest nearby. Investigate to learn more about how large-scale fires are fought, being sure to learn specifically about the work of smoke jumpers. Have learners begin by watching this video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sovMpY2QH-I
Then use the following website to learn more: https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/fire/people/smokejumpers
After students have completed their investigations, allow for a collective conversation about what students learned and found most interesting.
4. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs are two US government agencies that focus on conservation and preservation work, like that highlighted in Whale Done.
Using library resources and the internet, have students research these organizations to learn more about their essential work and the outcomes of these endeavors.
Be sure to learn the following:
· What are the programs these organizations oversee?
· Do they have unique focuses (what makes each of these agencies different from the other)? In what ways does their work overlap?
· Who are the other collaborators of these programs?
· What are some of the biggest challenges faced?
After gathering this information, have students create a visual presentation that illustrates their findings.
5. Throughout the course of Whale Done
, readers learn the world’s oceans are in danger from a variety of human-led activities. Working together, examine Smithsonian’s Ocean website resources here: https://ocean.si.edu/conservation
While reading and examining their resources, have students journal or create a “What I’ve Learned” notes page, detailing what information is new to them, and why they believe it to be significant. After finishing, be sure to have students share their findings with the class.
6. In Whale Done
, readers learn that the blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth, but despite its size, it is often at risk of harm from a variety of sources. Learn more about the blue whale here: https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/discover/animals/sea-life/10-blue-whale-facts/
After these readings, research to learn more about modern conservation efforts for the blue whale. Have students take their newly gathered knowledge and, utilizing a digital or artistic platform of choice, 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.