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Fuzzy Mud Hardcover – August 4, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Newbery Award-winning author Sachar takes on science and the government in this engaging eco-cautionary tale. Middle schoolers Tamaya, Marshall, and Chad meet in the woods near their school, but it's not to party. Tamaya follows Marshall into the woods because she thinks they're taking a shortcut home. Marshall hopes the detour will help them avoid a beating from bully Chad, who finds the pair anyway. Tamaya stops the boys' fight by throwing some strange-looking mud in Chad's face and inadvertently unleashes an environmental disaster lurking in the woods. The mud is composed of ergonyms, a microscopic life form never seen on Earth before, created by a nearby research facility to produce a safe, inexpensive biofuel. The bad news? Contact with the mud is dangerous for most other life forms already on Earth, starting with Tamaya and Chad. Sachar confidently juxtaposes three time lines, one of which takes place several months after the initial events, revealing some of the devastation to come, which serves to increase readers' apprehension about the characters' fate. Another time line recaps Senate hearings into the biofuel's risks and benefits. Sachar is at his best in these chapters, wryly skewing government power and questioning science's ability to control life and save us from ourselves. A witness at the hearings delivers the author's warning: "Unless we do something to control world population, nothing will help us." Clever petri dish design elements and multiplication equations sprinkled throughout the text help readers grasp the simple math that challenges science's claims of control. VERDICT Featuring a plot that moves as fast as the ergonyms replicate, this issue-driven novel will captivate readers while giving them plenty to think about.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Georgia Children's Award and the Buckeye Children's Teen Book Award (Ohio)
"Grounded in well-rounded central characters, this compelling novel holds as much suspense as fuel for discussion.”—Booklist, Starred
"Fast-paced. An exciting story of school life, and bullies that becomes a quick meditation on the promise and dangers of modern science."—Kirkus Reviews
"This engaging eco-cautionary tale... will captivate readers while giving them plenty to think about."—School Library Journal
". . . vintage Sachar for the way it brings big ideas to everyday drama."—The Horn Book
"Sachar blends elements of mystery, suspense, and school-day life into a taut environmental cautionary tale."—Publishers Weekly
"An engrossing plot . . .a most entertaining ride . . . .Readers will devour this delightful book just as they did with HOLES. A unique story that keeps readers on their toes."—VOYA
"Sachar is a master at compact and unintimidating plotting; the school story unfolds with swift authenticity in its own right and then becomes tautly suspenseful."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
". . .lively narrative . . . snappy dialogue and plenty of action."—Shelf Awareness
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Top customer reviews
The story has three central characters--a "goody goody" named Tamaya, a bully named Chad, and the bullied Marshall. But this is not a story strictly about bullying, and it doesn't hit readers over the head with messages about being good and doing the right thing. The themes are there, though, blended with questions about science and morality that make this very short novel a very engaging read.
I read the book in one sitting, as Sachar does a brilliant job of building suspense and feeding the readers clues about "fuzzy mud" as the story progresses. The story is told by a third person narrator, but the voice is almost prophetic, asking readers to ponder the impacts of population growth, capitalism, science and morality without making judgments about the characters in the story. Sachar doesn't force his ideas on readers, but does an excellent job of encouraging inquiry into contemporary issues.
I know that this is a book my middle school students will enjoy. I'm planning a re-read to see if I can figure out how I might be able to incorporate it into my classroom, particularly as there are strong STEM connections to the story.
My views as an ELA teacher aside, I strongly recommend this book to both young and more mature readers. It's an awesome read.
I recommend this book for children in third grade and up, but middle school students will enjoy it.
What an awesome book. My students love Louis Sachar, Holes has to be one of their favorite books ever. I read this book and I know it is another great one to share with my students.
The book is definitely a little darker and stranger than Holes, and even though it is not as long as I thought, only upper elementary and junior high would really "get" this book.
The book is a perfect starting point for a discussion and activities dealing with science and math.
Overall, a great read. Wish it had been a little longer.
I highly recommend this book.