Mudshark, aka Lyle Williams, is a cool kid, the kind who doesn’t have to say he’s cool for the other kids to know it. It’s not only the way he dresses or the way he moves that makes Mudshark cool, but his uncanny ability to know just about everything that goes on at school.

“The cool thing about Mudshark was that he not only had information, he knew how to use it,” writes author Gary Paulsen, explaining why his classmates frequently turn to Mudshark for help in finding lost objects or explaining school mysteries. Before Paulsen comes to the end of his new classroom comedy, Mudshark, even the principal will seek out this resourceful 12-year-old for help. The principal, Mr. Wagner, wants to know why all the erasers in the school have disappeared. And the students want to know whether the librarian’s pet parrot is psychic. Luckily for them, the Mudshark Detective Agency is on the case.

Paulsen laces his tale with the kind of humor that’s sure to appeal to middle grade readers, including a couple of running gags about a free-range gerbil and problems in the faculty restroom. He also offers enough clues to keep the story’s central mystery moving along with growing suspense.

Mudshark himself is an admirable fellow, who’s not only cool at school, but willing to pitch in at home to care for his triplet sisters. This light, entertaining read should prove especially popular with those on the younger end of the book’s suggested 8-to-12-year-old age range.

 

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