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Fuzzy Mud
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Fuzzy Mud
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From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a New York Times bestselling adventure about the impact we have—both good and...
From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a New York Times bestselling adventure about the impact we have—both good and...
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  • From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a New York Times bestselling adventure about the impact we have—both good and bad—on the world we live in. 
     
    Be careful. Your next step may be your last.
     
    Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
     
    In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.
     
    "Sachar blends elements of mystery, suspense, and school-day life into a taut environmental cautionary tale."—Publishers Weekly
 

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  • From the book 1

    Tuesday, November 2

    11:55 a.m.

    Woodridge Academy, a private school in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, had once been the home of William Heath, after whom the town had been named. Nearly three hundred students now attended school in the four-story, black-and-brown stone building where William Heath had lived from 1891 to 1917, with only his wife and three daughters.

    Tamaya Dhilwaddi’s fifth-grade classroom on the fourth floor had been the youngest daughter’s bedroom. The kindergarten area had once been the stables.

    The lunchroom used to be a grand ballroom, where elegantly dressed couples had sipped champagne and danced to a live orchestra. Crystal chandeliers still hung from the ceiling, but these days the room permanently smelled of stale macaroni and cheese. Two hundred and eighty-nine kids, ages five to fourteen, crammed their mouths with Cheetos, made jokes about boogers, spilled milk, and shrieked for no apparent reason.

    Tamaya didn’t shriek, but she did gasp very quietly as she covered her mouth with her hand.

    “He’s got this superlong beard,” a boy was saying, “splotched all over with blood.”

    “And no teeth,” another boy added.

    They were boys from the upper grades. Tamaya felt excited just talking to them, although, so far, she had been too nervous to actually say anything. She was sitting in the middle of a long table, eating lunch with her friends Monica, Hope, and Summer. One of the older boys’ legs was only inches away from hers.

    “The guy can’t chew his own food,” said the first boy. “So his dogs have to chew it up for him. Then they spit it out, and then he eats it.”

    “That is so disgusting!” exclaimed Monica, but from the way her eyes shone when she said it, Tamaya could tell that her best friend was just as excited as she was to have the attention of the older boys.

    The boys had been telling the girls about a deranged hermit who lived in the woods. Tamaya didn’t believe half of what they said. She knew boys liked to show off. Still, it was fun to let herself get caught up in it.

    “Except they’re not really dogs,” said the boy sitting next to Tamaya. “They’re more like wolves! Big and black, with giant fangs and glowing red eyes.”

    Tamaya shuddered.

    Woodridge Academy was surrounded by miles of woods and rocky hills. Tamaya walked to school every morning with Marshall Walsh, a seventh-grade boy who lived three houses down from her and on the other side of their tree-lined street. Their walk was almost two miles long, but it would have been a lot shorter if they hadn’t had to circle around the woods.

    “So what does he eat?” asked Summer.

    The boy next to Tamaya shrugged. “Whatever his wolves bring him,” he said. “Squirrels, rats, people. He doesn’t care, just so long as it’s food!”

    The boy took a big bite of his tuna fish sandwich, then imitated the hermit by curling his lips so that it looked like he didn’t have any teeth. He opened and closed his mouth in an exaggerated manner, showing Tamaya his partially chewed food.

    “You are so gross!” exclaimed Summer from the other side of Tamaya.

    All the boys laughed.

    Summer was the prettiest of Tamaya’s friends, with straw-colored hair and sky-blue eyes. Tamaya figured that was probably the reason the boys were talking to them in the first place. Boys were always acting silly around Summer.

    Tamaya had dark eyes and dark hair that hung only halfway down her...

About the Author-

  • LOUIS SACHAR is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Holes, which won the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Christopher Award, as well as Stanley Yelnats’ Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake; Small Steps, winner of the Schneider Family Book Award; and The Cardturner, a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a Parents’ Choice Gold Award recipient, and an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book. His books for younger readers include There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, The Boy Who Lost His Face, Dogs Don’t Tell Jokes, and the Marvin Redpost series, among many others.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books langston_p - I really liked this book because of the way the author wrote it. What happens is that when the main character, Tamara is taking a "shortcut" with her friend, Marshall, he gets beat up by another guy called Chad. In order to defend Marshall, Tamara grabs this weird looking mud and throws it at Chad's face. The next day, Chad goes missing, and Tamara has these weird little bumps on her hand which are actually single celled organisms that were mutated so they could survive in oxygen. They eventually spread and they were very deadly. I thought that this book was a really great book and I would love to read it again.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 18, 2015
    Sachar blends elements of mystery, suspense, and school-day life into a taut environmental cautionary tale about the insatiable hunger for energy sources and the cost of not doing the right thing. Marshall’s routines at Woodridge Academy—including his daily walk to and from school with his anxious neighbor Tamaya—are upended by the arrival of blowhard bully Chad. A quiet seventh-grader, Marshall becomes a target for Chad, who challenges him to an after-school fight. Rather than suffer a beating, he and Tamaya take a shortcut through the off-limits woods and come across what Tamaya dubs “fuzzy mud,” a strange substance they don’t realize harbors great danger for them and the town at large. Amid chapters following the children’s exploits, Sachar includes transcripts of secret Senate hearings with the scientists who engineered the microorganisms that generate fuzzy mud. In a tense sequence of events, readers learn more about Marshall, Tamaya, Chad, and the peril they face. A dramatic conclusion celebrates the positive ripples of friendship and honesty, and will leave readers with much food for thought. Ages 10–up. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group.

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2015
    When fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh-grader Marshall Walsh cut through the woods to avoid school bully Chad Hilligas, they unwittingly set off a chain of events that threatens global catastrophe. What exactly is that pool of mud that Tamaya notices in the woods-gooey, tarlike muck with a sheen of fuzzy, yellow-brown scum on top? Whatever it is, it comes in handy when Chad attacks Tamaya and Marshall, and Tamaya scoops up a handful and shoves it into his face. But that evening, she notices a terrible rash on her hands, and Chad doesn't show up for school the next day. Revealed in interspersed testimony from secret Senate hearings is the fact that scientists have been researching Biolene, a viable alternative to gasoline using artificial, high-energy microorganisms. The threat of mutations and "frankengerms" had been considered negligible, but now a walk in the woods has led to the quarantine of the whole Pennsylvania town as an epidemic has spread, the airport and railroad stations have been closed, and the Pennsylvania National Guard has been called in. Sachar's tale is slim, as is the delineation of character and setting, but the fast-paced plot and enough science to give the illusion of substance will have readers racing through the pages. An exciting story of school life, friends, and bullies that becomes a quick meditation on the promise and dangers of modern science. (Speculative fiction. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2015

    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

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 15, 2015
    Grades 4-7 *Starred Review* In the woods behind Woodridge Academy, in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, a seemingly innocuous substance grows exponentially more threatening by the hour. It's fuzzy mud. and its discovery is nothing short of spine-tingling. While taking a shortcut home from school, fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi comes in contact with the mud and breaks out into a terrible, blistery rash. When a boy she'd seen in the woods is reported missing the next day, she knows the mud is to blame and returns to find him. Tamaya's story is interspersed with court transcripts regarding Biolene, a high-energy biofuel being developed secretly in Heath Cliff. Sachar expertly builds tension as he incrementally reveals the dangers of Biolene and its connection to fuzzy mud, ratcheting up the dangers facing Tamaya and her friends. Unafraid of getting his hands dirty, Newbery Award winner Sachar (Holes, 1998) digs into hot-button topics, including overpopulation, the energy crisis, and bioengineering risks, while introducing readers to Hobson's choicechoosing between two evils. On a more intimate front, Sachar also incorporates the troubles of bullying, divorce, and the social growing pains of preadolescence, increasing the story's resonance as a whole. Grounded in well-rounded central characters, this compelling novel holds as much suspense as fuel for discussion. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Multi-award-winner Sachar will launch this book with an author tour and national media campaign, increasing demand for the already popular author.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • School Library Journal "This engaging eco-cautionary tale... will captivate readers while giving them plenty to think about."

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    Random House Children's Books
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