Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Book Info

Grade Level
Middle School
STEM Concepts
Microbiology, Psychology, Disaster Management, Public Health, Quarantines, Alternative Fuels, Exponential Growth, Media Literacy, Transportation Solutions

Be careful. Your next step might be your last.

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then 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.

Source: Penguin Random House


Highlights from STEM Read Fuzzy Mud Event!

Fuzzy Mud: The STEM Read Experience was an event at Northern Illinois University on April 6th, 2016.  750 children participated in activities and presentations involving Louis Sachar’s book “Fuzzy Mud.” In this video, Louis himself talks about the amazing day!

Louis Sachar's Top 5 Books

Fuzzy Mud author Louis Sachar shares his top five favorite books of all time, including classic literature and a couple surprises.

Fuzzy Mud and Alternative Fuels with Argonne National Laboratory

NIU’s STEM Read meet up with some amazing Argonne scientists in celebration of Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud! Learn all about biofuels and engineering!

Talking Turtles at the Midwest Museum of Natural History

In Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud turtles help save the day. Click above to find out why!

Fuzzy Mud and Renewable Energy

In Fuzzy Mud, the mud was seen as a possible new source of energy.  Engineering students at NIU talk about the benefits of researching renewable energy sources.

Ergonyms and Microbiology

Here’s another look at our Fuzzy Mud event!  In this video, Dr. Ed O’Loughlin of Agronne National Laboratory talks about microbiology, and how real life Ergonyms could exist in our world!

Outbreaks and Quarantines

Here’s another look at our Fuzzy Mud event! In this video, Dr. Lydia Finney of Argonne National Laboratory discusses outbreaks, and Stacy Jackson from Northern Illinois University’s College of Health and Human Sciences leads the students in a fun activity!

Engineering in a Crisis

Fuzzy Mud: The STEM Read Experience was an event at Northern Illinois University on April 6th, 2016. 750 children participated in activities and presentations involving Louis Sachar’s book “Fuzzy Mud.” In this video, Sean Tikkun of the Education Psychology department at NIU, and Dr. Kristen Brynteson, director of professional development at NIU STEAM Works, talk about how to engineer in a crisis, and lead the kids in an activity involving leading someone who is blind through a crisis.

Disaster Management

Fuzzy Mud: The STEM Read Experience was an event at Northern Illinois University on April 6th, 2016. 750 children participated in activities and presentations involving Louis Sachar’s book “Fuzzy Mud.” In this video, Chris Kramer of Argonne National Laboratory talks about how to communicate during a crisis.


We Survived the Fuzzy Mud

View photos from Fuzzy Mud: The STEM Read Experience in our Fuzzy Mud photo gallery.

Fuzzy Mud Photo

Play the Fuzzy Math Game



Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea sparks and Mini lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download The Lesson Plan

The Buzz on the Fuzz

In this PBL lesson based on Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, the activities are designed to connect the concepts in the book to real-world problems and ideas. Each prompt allows students to work collaboratively to explore one of the following topics: alternative fuels, alternative transportation, invasive species, or anti-bullying.

To address the problems presented in each prompt, students will work in small groups to research, brainstorm, design, and create solutions. Students can choose how they communicate their solution.

Download the Lesson Plan

Engineering in a Crisis

Two characters in the story had to find their way through the woods. One is blind, and the other could barely use her hands. In this challenge, students work in teams to engineer a device that allows two children to cross a “river” safely. The only students able to build the device are either blindfolded or given very limited use of their hands. This is a challenge in communication, engineering, and understanding limitations.

Download The Lesson Plan

Slime Mold Map

In this lesson, students will participate in a life sciences lab inspired by the book Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar. In the book, an organism engineered from slime mold escapes containment, causing an epidemic. For this lab, a cultured slime mold, physarum polycephalum, will be placed on a map of the United States. Students will observe how the slime mold spreads to get a better understanding of how an epidemic may start and spread.

Download The Lesson Plan

Manage the Mud

In this challenge students work together to write a public service announcement or promote protection products to advance fuzzy mud awareness. This challenge incorporates arts, marketing, and disaster response.

Download The Lesson Plan

Spreading it Around

The spread of infectious diseases is a real concern in our global society. Students as well as adults should wash their hands and take other precautions to help minimize the spread of germs. Unfortunately, many do not which results in the spread of germs. In this lesson, students will see first-hand how the spread of germs can rapidly escalate, potentially leading to an epidemic, giving them a tangible reason to do everything they can to keep healthy. They will also research some historical epidemics.

Download The Lesson Plan

The Real Dirt on Biofuels

There’s a lot of corn in the Midwest but can we use it to fly? This is a contemporary, real-world scenario that scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, in the airline industry, in agriculture, from government, and from not-for-profit energy organizations have been exploring for some time: how to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) from ground and air transportation while meeting society’s needs.

Investigating Tiny Terrors with Argonne’s Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

The microscopic world is filled with tiny terrors like the ergonyms in Fuzzy Mud. In this activity, you are concerned that lead is getting into your food, water, and air. Your job is to find out more about sources of lead and how it affects the environment. See what’s lurking in your location by collecting samples, sending them to Argonne, and receiving a report and images from their SEM.

Note that the sample limit is 8 per classroom. Turnaround time for an electronic report from Argonne to students is a week. Email Alice Woodward Bennett (abennett@anl.gov) with questions and send your samples to the address noted in the lesson plan.

Download Argonne’s Scanning Electron Microscope Challenge

Additional Resources

Louis Sacher 2
Cutting Through the Mud: A Q&A with Louis Sachar

Louis Sacher
Random House Guide to Louis Sachar

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide.

About the Author

Louis Sachar grew up in both New York and California, having orange fights in the orange tree groves near his town. He was a good student, but it was upon reading the likes of J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut in high school that he became an avid reader. Before he was the famous author he is today he had a brief, but incredibly successful career as a door-to-door salesmen. He sold cleaning products.

He attended both the University of California at Berkely and Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. In which he earned degrees in economics and law respectively.  In 1989 his writing career took off well enough that he could discontinue his law practice and dedicate his full-time work to writing. He now happily lives with his wife Carla and their daughter Sherre in Austin, Texas. Other novels by Louis include Holes and Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

Learn more at louissachar.com.

Source: Louis Sachar