Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
|Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Middle grade comedy thriller with some funny, some sad and some terrifying moments. There are themes of bullying, enviromentalism and global overpopulation, too. But it's Sachar, so nothing gets in the way of the story!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: August 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Tamaya isn't allowed to walk home from school on her own. And Tamaya doesn't like to break any rules. So when walking partner Marshall insists on taking a "shortcut" through the woods one day, she goes with him, even though she isn't really supposed to walk through the woods. Unbeknownst to Tamaya, Marshall has chosen the route in order to avoid school bully Chad, who has threatened him with a reckoning. A reckoning for nothing at all - but you know, that's how school bullies work.
But lying in the woods is an even greater threat than Chad...
... and the next day, Tamaya has a burning rash on her arm. Even worse, Chad has gone missing. Everyone's lives are about to be turned upside down by the mysterious fuzzy mud.
A thing that never ceases to amaze me about Sachar: he manages to wrap up complex themes in a very simple way and, better still, inside an exciting plot with relatable characters and using an authorial tone that is always playful and never preachy. It's a tall order to do this once, but to do it over and again in a whole series of stories? That's a body of work to be proud of.
Fuzzy Mud is a cautionary tale on two levels: first, we must protect our environment from the ravages of overpopulation; second, we must guard against the unintended consequences of science overreaching itself. Interspersed sections reporting the secret Senate hearings about fuzzy mud show us that the intention was to save the world, not threaten it. There's a lot for kids to think about here.
The book also has themes of bullying and standing up for yourself and doing the right thing. The three central characters are very different. Tamaya is a good girl and her challenge is to understand that rules can sometimes be broken for the greater good. Marshall has to learn to conquer his fear so that he can help a friend. And Chad has to recognise that he can't take out his own bitternesses on innocent passers-by. That they all manage to do this by the end adds a feel good factor to the story that soothes the harder questions posed by the environmental warnings the book puts forward.
But most of all, it's a great story, skilfully told. Readers will relate to Tamaya and Marshall straightaway and race through a tense plot for the denouement. It's quite a slim volume, Fuzzy Mud, but it packs a punch.
Highly recommended for middle grade readers.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar at Amazon.com.
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