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Fuzzy Mud    by Louis Sachar order for
Fuzzy Mud
by Louis Sachar
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Louis Sachar (author of Holes) can be counted on for a good middle grade read, and he's done it again with Fuzzy Mud, which has as themes the energy crisis, the environment, bullying and unintended consequences!

The bully is Chad Hilligas (kicked out of three schools in two years) who challenges seventh grader Marshall Walsh to a fight. Marshall normally walks to and from their Pennsylvania private school with fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi, the story's heroine. But he's afraid and wants to avoid the bully.

So, without telling Tamaya why, he insists they take a shortcut home through the woods, which are forbidden territory (students speculate about a deranged hermit living there). That's where they all encounter fuzzy mud, especially the bully! Tanya's right hand (that touched some) begins to tingle.

Northwest of the school is SunRay Farm, surrounded by an electric fence and armed guards. A year before the story opens the US Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment held secret hearings about the farm and its clean energy research. Transcripts are interspersed through the story, revealing the source of fuzzy mud.

As a horrible rash spreads across Tamaya's hand and arm, she begins to worry about Chad, who was exposed much more and has not been seen since their clash in the woods. She has to do something so she bravely goes in search of him, despite his having attacked her and Marshall. And Marshall follows.

During what follows, world disaster is barely averted and the kids become the heroes of the hour - as is a dog and a mud turtle. Fuzzy Mud is an engaging, entertaining read, with more than one important message. Not to be missed.

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