Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Summary: Fifth-grader Tamaya and her seventh-grade neighbor Marshall always walk home from school together. One day Marshall, fearing he is about to be beat up by classroom bully Chad, tells Tamaya he knows a shortcut through the woods. Chad finds them anyway, and when he attacks Marshall, Tamaya scoops up some mud and throws it in Chad’s face. Unbeknownst to any of them, it’s “fuzzy mud” crawling with ergonyms created by an eccentric inventor looking to create a biofuel to replace gasoline for cars. The microscopic creatures multiply, slowly eating away the flesh on Tamaya’s hand and Chad’s face, and before long, an epidemic threatens their town. Sachar inserts Senate testimony on the disaster to give a larger perspective on the issue. Grades 4-8.
Pros: Michael Crichton for kids. A real page-turning adventure, with several different layers, including questions about overpopulation, dangerous science, and doing the right thing. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced story and also find plenty to discuss.
Cons: While I love a happy ending, the denouement felt a little too quick and easy. On the plus side, I got to use the word “denouement”.