By: Tina Davidson
Fuzzy Mud (2015) by Louis Sachar
When I was growing up, I don’t remember reading any good fiction on microscopic creatures.
Recently, when looking for quality reading material (anything that didn’t have Star Wars in the title) for my third grade son, I stumbled upon Fuzzy Mud. It had been placed on the top shelf by a kind librarian, making it easy for tall children (and short mothers) to spot. As any good mother would, I checked out the front and back cover to see if it was appropriate for my child. To my glee, this was no longer a book I was checking out for my son… I had stumbled on a book for me.
Louis Sachar had me at Fuzzy Mud because the Fuzzy Mud book cover mentioned his Newberry Medal Winner, Holes.
I remember Holes fondly because as an adult I got paid to read it. Technically, my supervisors had tasked me with the job of cataloging books to create a mobile library but I found time on my “breaks” to finish Holes in two days. Holes stood out among the other books for young readers that I had the chance to peruse while on the job. I found Holes humorous and fun–a great escape from the reality of my job (creating the library was the highlight of that job).
When glancing at the cover of Fuzzy Mud, after noticing who the author was, the book did not give off the vibe of fun. The cover art of Fuzzy Mud depicts two children wandering into the woods with one child trailing behind them. The woods do not look inviting. The text on the back cover of the book reads, “Be careful. Your next step may be your last.” Yikes…
The book features Tamaya, Sachar’s 5th grade heroine, and two other main characters, Marshall and Chad, 7th grade boys. Fuzzy Mud features a silent villain, slime mold. This “fuzzy mud” contains “a single-celled, high-energy microorganism” referred to as an ergie or ergonym. Although the ergie was invented for good it eventually becomes a “Frankengerm.” According to the book, an ergie can only be seen by an electron microscope. When the characters come in contact with the contaminated mud scary things happen.
I read this book out loud to my son. When I asked him about it later and if his younger brother would enjoy it, he said, “No. It is too scary.”
This is a good family read that sparks discussion, but there are elements of suspense and danger that might frighten some young children.
It will definitely make you think twice before stepping in a mud puddle.
What about you? Read any good books on slime mold or microorganisms lately?
I’d love to hear about them.
**This is my personal blog. It is solely my opinion.**