Mudshark by Gary Paulsen
Mudshark goes head to head with the Librarian's pet parrot to solve the mystery of the school's missing erasers.
Tags: Middle school reading books for kids great books Gary Paulsen Library Librarian
Added: 9 months ago
[Mrs. Gaither the WMS Librarian speaks directly to the camera]
GAITHER: The story is about a mystery that's going on at school. The main character is Mudshark, he's just a regular kid, but he's gotten this cool nickname and you have to read the story to find out how he gets the nickname. But he is known for paying attention to detail, and having a great memory, and so what happens in his school is if someone loses something or they misplace something, they go and they ask Mudshark, "Hey, have you seen this, or do you know where it is?" And almost all the time, he knows exactly where that person needs to go to find that lost item. Well, what's really interesting in this particular book, is he gets some competition by this crazy parrot that the librarian has made a pet of in the library, and this parrot starts answering the questions, and so the kids start saying, "Hey, that parrot is just as smart - or smarter - than Mudshark!" And then these mysterious things start happening around the school, and the principal calls Mudshark in to help solve the mystery!
"Mudshark" by Gary Paulsen
Mudshark is the go-to guy for any mysteries that need solving. Lost your shoe? Can't find your homework? Ask Mudshark. That is, until the Psychic Parrot takes up residence in the school library and threatens to overturn Mudshark's position as the guy who knows all the answers. The word in school is that the parrot can out-think Mudshark. And right now, the school needs someone who's good at solving problems. There's an escaped gerbil running rampant, an emergency in the faculty restroom, and all the erasers are disappearing from the classrooms.
When Mudshark solves the mystery of who's stealing the erasers, he discovers the culprit has the best of intentions. Now he has to think of a way to prevent the Psychic Parrot from revealing the eraser-thief's identity. With a bit of misdirection and a lot of quick thinking, Mudshark restores order to the chaos . . . just for the moment.
Twelve-year-old Lyle Williams plays Death Ball — a combination of soccer, football, wrestling, rugby and mud fighting. When he trips and lands flat on his back, a member of the opposing team runs by him with the ball. Lyle stretches out his arm, grabs the player and prevents him from scoring. Later, Billy Crisper, an avid viewer of the animal channel, says that Lyle moved as fast as a mud shark. From that point forward, Lyle Williams is called by the nickname Mudshark.
Mudshark is such a keen observer that kids who have lost something come to him for help. When Kyle Robertson magically makes his father's car disappear, Mudshark finds it. When Willamena Carson loses the plastic brain that fits inside her model skull, Mudshark uncovers it. When Ms. Underdorf, the school librarian, buys an armadillo that never eats or moves, Mudshark realizes that it is actually a purse. Ms. Underdorf then buys a new pet — a squawky bird that has an uncanny ability to retrieve lost items, much like Mudshark.
When the principal asks for Mudshark's help in recovering all of the school's missing erasers, Mudshark recruits his friends, the librarian and the custodian to help him dupe the chatty bird, find the erasers and protect the culprit's identity.
Nearly every chapter opens with an announcement from the school principal regarding three things: the hazardous smell coming from the faculty restroom, the increasing amount of missing erasers and a lost gerbil. The principal also feels it is his responsibility to get out of the way of teachers so they can teach. The narrator comments that the school secretary actually runs the school. Ms. Underdorf is happy that more kids are populating the library, even though they are only there to ask the parrot questions because they think it's psychic.
One of the more interesting and long-lasting side effects of the crayfish experiment was that the librarian, Ms. Underdorf, decided to turn her library into a small, personal zoo.
There are many ways to describe Ms. Underdorf.
She was brilliant and joyous and she believed - probably correctly - that libraries contain the answers to all things, to everything, and that if you can't find the information you seek in the library, then such information probably does not exist in this or any parallel universe now or ever to be known.
She was thoughtful and kind and she always believed the best of everybody. She was, above all else, a master librarian and knew where to find any book on any subject in the shortest possible time.
And she was wonderfully unhinged. So when the School Administration Science Experiment Directive came down about crayfish, she embraced it with an enthusiasm any educational administrator would have found rewarding.
If a couple of crayfish were good, she thought, looking around at all the empty space in her library that suddenly seemed to cry out for cages and aquariums and terrariums, then other examples of more exotic living creatures would be better.
And so the Amazing Armadillo.