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LIT_fuzzy mudFuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar. Delacorte, 2015.

The author of Holes and The Cardturner is back!

Fuzzy Mud refers to a mud that gets 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.

Cover image from amazon; book received as an ARC from publisher (via netgalley) in return for a fair review