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My mother in law loves to tell this story: When my husband was a kid, he carried around a briefcase, followed the stock market, and read The Hot Zone over and over again (some of us are just lucky enough to be born nerds). Fuzzy Mud reads like a junior-league version of The Hot Zone, and I couldn’t help but picture a little Mr. Fitz happily toting it around in his briefcase. The woods near Woodridge Academy have always been off limits. But when school bully Chad challenges Marshall to meet him outside after school, Marshall decides to risk the woods rather than face his tormentor. Tamaya has been told by her mother again and again not to walk home alone, so she follows Marshall through the woods – it’s safer than hitting the streets alone, right? But the “fuzzy mud” that Tamaya and Marshall stumble upon in the woods sets into motion a string of incidents (think health epidemic, quarantine, worldwide panic) that turns out to be far larger than themselves. Court interviews from scientists are dispersed throughout the story casting an ominous glow over a seemingly innocent story from the very beginning – science fiction fans will love the scientific references, mathematical equations, and spooky petri dish illustrations. The characters felt a bit flat to me and I wanted more detail on the mud’s gross deadly side effects – who knew I’d be such a gawker? – but I still enjoyed reading. Fuzzy Mud flew by and will be a pleaser for younger readers looking for suspense, thrills, science, and biological warfare (we all know at least one). It’s not easy to find science fiction titles that are a good fit for middle grade readers, so I’m excited to purchase this one for the library and pass it along to all of my favorite nerds. Maybe I’ll even let Mr. Fitz read it first 😉 #stabsummerreading
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