No one likes a bully, often not even the bully. However, all Marshall can think about is the “meeting” he is going to have after school, with the school bully – Chad. And by “meeting” he knows Chad is planning to beat him up. So rather than take his usual walk home with his neighbor, Tamaya, Marshall ops for the “short cut” through the woods. At least that is what he tells Tamaya, who is two years younger than he is.
Unfortunately, the short cut doesn’t save Marshall from Chad, who follows him into the woods and then proceeds to do just what he threatened. Tamaya has to intervene and save Marshall by taking a handful of mud and smashing it into Chad’s face. So for Marshall, the humiliation is complete. No only did he NOT escape from Chad, but a younger girl had to save him from getting more beat up! As he wallows in his misery, he doesn’t pay any attention to Tamaya and leaves her as soon as they both get out of the woods.
Tamaya can’t stop thinking about what happened in the woods, especially since the hand the she used to pick up the mud and smash it into Chad’s face seems to be developing some kind of weird rash. She figures it will just go away, but the next day it looks awful and begins to blister and weep blood. Tamaya is beginning to realize that “mud” wasn’t just regular mud. When the school administration lets the students know that Chad is missing, Tamaya gets the horrible feeling he is still trapped in the woods, suffering because of the mud she flung at him.
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar shares the story of three students, all coming together during one horrible event and somehow they manage to help divert an even bigger disaster.
Recommended for students 6th grade and up.