Mudshark by Gary Paulsen is a humorous tale about a middle school age boy who is the school’s best problem solver. That is, he is the best problem solver until the school librarian gets a pet parrot to replace the other pet which really wasn’t a pet but a purse. The parrot doesn’t say much but when it does, it belches first then gives very straightforward answers about missing items. Not funny enough? Than try this – the school principal has to deal with a toxic restroom, a terrorizing gerbil, a missing teacher and missing erasers – sixty-six to be exact. None of the classrooms have any left and the principal turns to Mudshark for help. In the end it takes some quick thinking by Mudshark to solve the mysterious disappearance of the erasers, how the parrot knew as much as he did and how to keep said parrot from blurting out who the culprit was. While some may consider this a little light on content, it is a nice change from the Captain Underpants style of humorous nonsense.
(Mark Taylor, Benjamin Branch)