Name of Book: Mudshark
Author: Gary Paulsen
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Audience: Ages 8 – 12
Summary: Mudshark – real name Lyle Williams – is a student blessed with perfect recall, a good heart, and lightning reflexes. Whenever something goes missing, he’s the guy to find it. When the librarian gets an all-seeing parrot, Mudshark’s role at the school is threatened. When all the school’s erasers disappear, it’s up to Mudshark to solve the mystery before the parrot. This is done with a unique cast of characters including the custodian, a Vietnam veteran, who prizes beauty in every form more than following rules. A sense of community is built by the characters as they use their numerous gifts to solve the mystery together.
Literary elements at work in the story: This is a problem solving story that is told in the third person. It has many humorous characters that will especially appeal to boys. The mystery aspect combines well with the overall story, with crazy rants by the principal of the school, which is where most of the story takes place.
(How) does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The school could be found anywhere, while a great sense of community is established by the end of the book. Mudshark shows compassion and determination while solving the mystery. The addition of the Vietnam veteran and his situation in life is an opening to a discussion with children on this period in our country’s history.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 1John 3:17-18
Theology: Paul spent time teaching the people of Corinth the message of the good news in detail, and showing them how to live as a community of believers. One part of the community is the love for one another. Paul’s love list in 1Corinthians 13 show us various characteristics that Mudshark demonstrated throughout the story. Kindness is an attribute that he displayed towards everyone in the story.
To be kind means “having or showing a tender, considerate and helping nature.” Thus, one who is kind is friendly, generous, warmhearted, sympathetic, considerate, gentle, affectionate and forbearing. Kind is not something that you just are. Kindness must be demonstrated or practiced.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How would you feel if everyone approached you for something specific like they did to Mudshark?
- How did he react each time?
- Would you have returned the erasers in the same way Mudshark did? Why or why not?
- Have you ever covered up something for someone else because you felt it was the right thing to do?
- What are some acts of kindness that Mudshark performed?
- What are some acts of kindness you have/can do in your community/home/school?
- What are some acts of kindness we have learned from our Bible stories?
- Mudshark used his talents for good. Do you know your talents? How could you use them for good?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Cyndi Beerbower
Mudshark by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.