Are you brave enough to rescue a bully from a hazardous substance, at your own risk? A thought-provoking middle grades read from the author of Holes.
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar. Delacorte, 2015. 208 pages.
Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended For: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
“Fuzzy mud” is a mud that gets, well, fuzzy as potentially deadly microbes multiply exponentially. If the mud remains uncontained, the results will be catastrophic. And it’s been doing its little multiplying act unnoticed by the neighboring town….
Until two middle school kids flee into the woods in a desperate attempt to escape a big-time bully. When anyone is fleeing into uncharted wilderness in a book–especially when it’s a really desperate flight–the reader knows catastrophe is likely to be just around the corner. Maybe they’ll get lost. Maybe they’ll meet wild animals. Maybe they’ll fall down an unseen cliff. Suspense builds.
In this book, the two kids turn to face their adversary, the conflict escalates to blows, and a girl knocks a guy down. Into the mud. Mud she notices is “fuzzy” and doesn’t look quite right.
In the ensuing days, she comes down with a rapidly spreading mysterious rash. Putting two and two together finally, she rushes back into the woods to find the missing bully. Blinded by the mud, he’s been hobbling around the woods completely lost.
All’s well that ends well. Mad scientist is brought to justice. Bully and victims reconciled. Mud contained. Afflicted persons healed (mostly). A quick, suspenseful read that brings up many issues worth discussing, especially with upper elementary kids. But the main characters? They remain nameless in many ways, a bit removed from the reader. Not unsympathetic, but almost a-sympathetic.
Nevertheless, heroically rescuing a bully who was mean to you makes for an excellent story!
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
- Worldview/Moral Rating: 4
- Literary/Artistic Rating: 4
Related Reading From Redeemed Reader
- A Review: Scientific Fiction or Fictional Science? Three Genre-Busting Reads (great read-alikes for this age group!)
- A Resource: Parents’ Guide to Environmentalism in Children’s Literature (part 1); see Part 2 here.
- A Review: Tangerine by Edward Bloor is a good follow-up for slightly older kids; it, too, looks at bullies and environmentalism
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