3 / 5
"Woodridge Academy, a private school in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, had once been the home of William Heath, after whom the town had been named."
"Be careful. Your next step may be your last."
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and 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.
Let me start off by saying how much I LOVE Louis Sachar. I have ever since Sideways Stories from Wayside School, which I recall reading obsessively over & over again when I was little. (I also remember being so excited when I discovered there was a sequel!) Sachar’s humor is perfectly timed and so well done. And while I don’t recall the entire plot of There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom, I do remember that book being passed around as the current coolest thing in fifth grade. Many years later I also picked up Holes, which was likewise a true gem. So I was thrilled to be able to snag an ARC of his upcoming Fuzzy Mud at BEA this year! I looked forward to cracking the cover.
And yet...once I did? Well, at first all seemed well & good. The usual Sachar wit and comedic pacing appeared to be at play. But...it didn’t last. And I was severely disappointed in what I noticed some other blogger call the pointlessness of the entire story. It seemed to have such great promise: it was a novel about some kids who enter the forbidden woods near their school and encounter the eponymous fuzzy mud, interspersed with federal testimony related to a new form of biofuel that is concurrently being developed. So, I totally geared myself up for a great little read. But? I felt as if there was nothing to take away from the book. Not even an environmental lesson, unless it was that of “if you can, try to get attacked by bad organisms sooner rather than later, so that things don’t spread out of control.” Or, was it “we shouldn’t be trying to develop new fuel technologies because they could be dangerous”? Neither really seems to be Sachar’s intent, but I just can’t figure out why he wrote this book. There was a good portion of it related to bullying and how a bully sometimes isn’t even sure why he acts the way he does. I thought that was a great takeaway for a young reader. But the rest...just left me kind of ambivalent. Perhaps part of that is that I have such high expectations for this author. I am hoping that this is just a minor blip in his otherwise super record, and I still look forward eagerly for his next release. I’ll just probably quietly pass this one on to my local library’s book sale, in hopes that it WILL speak to someone else.
Support Shelf Notes! Purchase your copy of this book here: