by Gary Paulsen


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The Mudshark Detective Agency is on the case in a winning tale from Gary Paulsen, about whom Booklist writes in a starred review, "When it comes to telling funny stories about boys, no one surpasses Paulsen."

Mudshark is cool. He's fast-thinking and fast-moving, and with his photographic memory, he's the go-to guy with the answers. Lost your shoe? Your dad's car? Can't find your homework? Ask Mudshark. At least, until the Psychic Parrot takes up residence in the school library.

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 the halls, a near-nuclear emergency in the faculty restroom, and an unexplained phenomenon involving disappearing erasers. Once Mudshark solves the mystery of the erasers, he plans to investigate the Psychic Parrot. . . .

In Mudshark, Paulsen introduces readers to a resourceful boy who will have kids everywhere thinking, and laughing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553494648
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 06/08/2010
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 431,363
Product dimensions: 7.70(w) x 5.36(h) x 0.25(d)
Lexile: NC1080L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gary Paulsen is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, including three Newbery Honor books: The Winter Room, Hatchet, and Dogsong. His novel The Haymeadow received the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award.

Among his Random House books are Woods Runner; Notes from the Dog; Lawn Boy; The Legend of Bass Reeves; The Amazing Life of Birds; The Time Hackers; Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day; The Quilt (a companion to Alida's Song and The Cookcamp); The Glass Café; How Angel Peterson Got His Name; Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian books; The Beet Fields; Soldier's Heart; Brian's Return, Brian's Winter, and Brian's Hunt (companions to Hatchet); Father Water, Mother Woods; Woods Runner; and five books about Francis Tucket's adventures in the Old West. Gary Paulsen has also published fiction and nonfiction for adults, as well as picture books illustrated by his wife, the painter Ruth Wright Paulsen. Their most recent book is Canoe Days. They live in Alaska and New Mexico.

You can visit him on the Web at

Read an Excerpt

This is the principal. Would the custodian please report to the faculty restroom with a plunger . . . no, wait . . . a shovel and a plunger? And has anybody seen the gerbil from room two oh six?   The Mudshark was cool.   Not because he said he was cool or knew he was or thought it. Not because he tried or even cared.   He just was.   Kind of tall, kind of thin, with a long face, brown eyes and hair and a quick smile that jumped out and went back. When he walked down a hall he didn't just walk, he seemed to move as a part of the hall. He'd suddenly appear out of nowhere, as if he'dalways been there.   Wasn't there.   Then there.   His real name was Lyle Williams and for most of his twelve-year-old life people had just called him Lyle.   But one day, when he'd been playing Death Ball—a kind of soccer mixed with football and wrestling and rugby and mudfighting, a citywide, generations-old obsession that had been banned from school property because of, according to the principal, CertainInsurance Restrictions and Prohibitions Owing to Alarming Health Risks Stemming from the Inhalation and Ingestion of Copious Amounts of Mud—he'd been tripped. Everyone thought he was down for the count, flat on his back, covered in mud. Just then, a runner-kicker-wrestler-mudfightercame too close to him, streaking downfield with the ball, and one of Lyle's hands snaked out and caught the runner by an ankle.   "So fast, it was like a mudshark," Billy Crisper said later. He always watched the animal channel. "Mudsharks lie in the mud and when something comes by, they grab it so fast that even high-speed cameras can't catch it. I didn't even see his hand move,I didn't see so much as a blur."   After that game, no one called him Lyle.   Mudshark's agility had been honed at home, courtesy of his triplet baby sisters—Kara, Sara and Tara. Once they started crawling, his father said that all heck broke loose, because nothing moves faster than a tiny, determined toddler heading toward a breakableor swallowable object. If Mudshark had only had one little sister or maybe even two, his reflexes wouldn't have been so keen, but living under the same roof as three mobile units at one time had increased his range of motion and speed exponentially.   One night after dinner when they were about seven months old, the babies had been placed on a blanket on the floor and were playing with soft toys. Mudshark was doing his homework at the desk in the corner of the family room and his parents were watchingthe news and, frankly, dozing on the couch.   Out of the corner of his eye, Mudshark saw a pink flash.   His head whipped around. Two babies were sitting on the blanket, looking toward the door to the hallway. Two, but not three. His parents were half asleep and he didn't want to disturb them. As he leapt silently to his feet and took a step toward the door,he saw two pink streaks darting past him in the same direction. Mudshark reached out and grabbed both babies by the back of their overalls as they crawled after their more adventurous sister. He scooped them up and tucked one under each arm in one fell swoop,heading out of the room toward the rogue baby.   Down the hall toward the kitchen, he saw a little rosebud-covered bottom (a quick glance at the faces he had clutched under his arms told him that Tara had made the first break) rounding the corner to the guest room. He took long strides toward her, Karaand Sara cooing at the jouncy ride. When he got to the guest room, he stared down at Tara, who had found one of the dog's squeezy toys and was happily gumming it (EEY-ah, EEY-ah . . . ). Three babies, two arms.   He shifted the two girls he was holding to his left side, sliding his arm through their overall straps as if he were slinging a backpack over his forearm. They hung there, gurgling, while he bent over and plucked Tara off the floor.   Mudshark and his wriggling crew returned to the family room, where his parents slept peacefully, unaware that the triplets had discovered mobility.   From that moment on, Mudshark did everything he could to anticipate their moves and keep them out of trouble. He stood guard between the triplets and electrical outlets (there had been a close call with Tara, a Barbie doll and a surge protector), the dogbowl (Sara was especially fond of kibble) and   the cat box (Mudshark made a flying leap across the room the first time he saw Kara sitting next to the litter box, reaching a small hand toward the mysterious clumps she saw. He snatched her up before she connected). Yes, he owed his speed and attentionto detail to Kara, Sara and Tara.   But the way he moved wasn't why Mudshark was cool.   And it wasn't his clothes. Sometimes his outfit fit in with the way everybody else dressed and sometimes it didn't. Once, he wore a green wool sweater that had a yellow leather diamond stamped with the head of a poodle in the middle of the chest. It wasas ugly as broken teeth chewing rotten meat, but by the end of the day everybody in school wished they had a green wool sweater with a yellow leather diamond and a poodle on it, too.   That's how cool Mudshark was.   It didn't matter to Mudshark what they called him or that he wasn't allowed to play Death Ball anymore because of how badly he'd frightened the other players with his fast moves (Death Ball was not known to require cunning or quickness, just the bruteforce and raw grit necessary to last the four quarters of, as parents and other adults shudderingly referred to it, That Game). Mudshark knew cool wasn't in how you moved or a name or clothes or whether or not you were asked to play on anyone's team.   It was all in the way your thoughts ran through your mind, the way you managed the flow of electrical charges jumping from one brain cell to another to form ideas.   That's what makes somebody who they are. And that's why Mudshark was so cool.   He thought.   While everyone else was hanging out or goofing off or playing video games or listening to music or watching TV or walking down the hallway in a funk or texting each other or surfing the Net, he was observing the people and objects and sights and scenesaround him.   Thinking.   Once, when he was just five and a half years old, he went up to his mother and said:   "Mom, I think all the time."   "About what?"   "Everything." Deep breath, let it out, sigh.   "What are you thinking about right now?"   "Fingernails grow exactly four times faster than toenails, but it's not like we need toenails because we don't even use them for scratching and did you know that an octopus doesn't even have toenails . . ." He sighed again, and as he turned to walk away,he said, "It makes a man think."   He also read all the time. His mother was the lead research coordinator at the public library, and from the time he was very tiny, she'd brought him to work with her, setting him on the floor behind her desk with a stack of books she'd absentmindedly pulledfrom the nearest shelf—never picture books or easy readers, but books on astronomy and astrophysics and the history of democracy and the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. He'd learned to read before he went to kindergarten and was always carrying twoor three books with him. He only had to read a page once to be able to quote from it word for word.   As he grew older, his memory became better because of the way he learned to pay attention to every sight, smell, taste and sound every minute of every day. As with any skill, practice made him more proficient, and over time, he'd developed a nearly photographicmemory.   Eventually people noticed his knack for quoting obscure facts and remembering tiny details, and when a kid at school had a question or problem, someone would say "Ask Mudshark."   "Hey, Mudshark," Markie McCorkin said, "I lost my homework!"   And Mudshark remembered him sitting by the steps in front of the school where two small kids had been playing with a ball, a yellow ball, that they'd thrown in the bushes back of where Markie sat. One of them had accidentally kicked Markie's orange folderso that his homework papers, held together with a red paper clip, fell out of the folder while he was telling Todd DeClouet about the new tires on his bicycle and how well they gripped in dirt, although not as well as he'd thought they might.   And Markie ran to the front bushes and sure enough, his homework was there. Exactly where Mudshark had said it would be.  

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Mudshark 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
MUDSHARK is a great addition to any Gary Paulsen collection. It's not the HATCHET adventure type, but rather one of the crazy, mad-cap mishap stories like HOW ANGEL PETERSON GOT HIS NAME and LAWN BOY. Mudshark is actually Lyle Williams. He got his name for his lightning speed and his incredible observation skills. These are skills he honed while keeping an eye on Kara, Sara, and Tara, his triplet sisters. When they became mobile, life became one accident-avoidance after another. Most of Mudshark's skills are put to use helping his friends at school. He has a certain knack for finding anything that goes missing. The main adventure, in what I hope is Paulsen's first in a series of Mudshark adventures, is locating the school's mysteriously missing erasers. Yes, gradually every eraser in the school has disappeared. The cast of characters in MUDSHARK is quite colorful. There's a talking parrot in the library, an easily excitable English teacher, a culturally educated custodian, and a "free-range" gerbil, just to name a few. I especially enjoyed the principal's announcements that opened each chapter. His running commentary on some sort of out-of-control situation in the faculty restroom was a hoot! Aimed at an audience of 8-12 year olds, MUDSHARK is one of those fabulous Paulsen books that can be enjoyed by anyone from a beginning chapter book reader to a senior citizen who remembers what it's like to be a kid. At only 83 pages long, MUDSHARK is a quick way to pass the time and enjoy a laugh or two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read anybody would like
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The humourous tale of a very observant young boy, who takes on a Psychic Parrot as a competitor.
Stephen.Cooper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mudshark was an ordinary boy who played a lot of deathball at his school. One day he was sent into the principal¿s office. At first he thought he was in trouble, but the principal wanted him to make the Mudshark Detective program to help solve problems at school. He will have to solve disappearing erasers, waffle markings on students¿ faces, odd lunch choices, and a gerbil running around the school. Most of Mudshark¿s friends were deathball players such as Risdon, and Kyle, but he soon finds out that one of his friends is part of the problem. At the end, Mudshark solves all of the mysteries, but one. It happens to be that a 7th grade science teacher has disappeared and he¿s probably still looking for the gerbil.This book will make a great movie! The reason that I think this book can be a great movie is because it has a lot of humor and mystery in it. Another reason is that it should be made into a movie is that deathball can be created into a real recess game. The final reason I think this book can be made into a good movie someday is that I will be the perfect lead actor and I could use the money.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lyle "Mudshark" Williams is 12, and the best problem-solver and finder of lost things at his middle school. His nickname (Mudshark) came from a game of DeathBall (combination of soccer, football, rugby, wrestling and mudfighting) in which he got buried in the mud, and managed to still grab the ball carrier and bring him down. Principal Wagner is busy dealing with a faculty restroom crisis (which keeps getting worse), a belching psychic parrot in the media center, and the theft of every blackboard eraser in the school. To find the mysteriously missing erasers, Principal Wagner calls upon Mudshark, and the results are classic hilarious Paulsen! Jokes and laugh-out-loud moments aboud in this short novel -- perfect for reluctant readers and anyone looking for a fun read. 6th grade and up.
bplma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mudshark, aka Lyle Williams, is the coolest kid in middle school-- He is the go-to guy for all manner of problems-- where did i leave my homework? how do i get out of band practice, my cat is lost, can you find him, etc. He's not really a genius, he just has very good powers of observation, and in order to keep his position of importance, he starts the Mudshark Dectective Agency and everyone-- even the principal, come to Mudshark for help. In this book ( the first of several, i am sure) Mudshark helps the principal straighten out some problems involving a class mascot, some missing erasers, the custodian's job and the library parrot who talks too much. LIght hearted and clever-- lots of funny observations about school culture-- Paulsen's new series should find lots of popularity, especially among boys.
delzey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Is it me, or does Gary Paulsen seem to be ripping through a very fertile period? These past few years he's released, it seems, two or three books a year and they always slip in under the radar where I find out about them by accident.I was actually trying to remember the title of a book of his I read and liked and came across this as I was scanning the shelves. Being in the mood for a light read, and with a promising flap summary, I took the bait.Lyle Williams is Mudshark, a kid we are told is cool. Cool not so much because he is hip but because his demeanor is calm and detached. When things go missing or problems need to be solved everyone ¿ including adults at school ¿ know to go to Mudshark. So notorious that the day someone tags his locker with a sign proclaiming the Mudshark Detective Agency he simply smiles in acknowledgment.Small problems plaque Mudshark's fellow students - misplaced gym shoes and lost homework folders - but with his keen eye and memory he is able to resolve cases quickly. Larger problems loom as chalkboard erasers go missing, foul odors come from the faculty lounge, and a gerbil has escaped is cage and at large. Complicating matters is a new school pet, a parrot, who appears to possess a psychic ability that threatens Mudshark's place as the school mystery solver. In the end, Mudshark must debunk the parrot, find the missing erasers, and tie up every other mystery in order to retain his title, and his cool factor.Paulsen's pacing is odd. The book seems to meander for the first 38 pages (out of 83) as he sets up all the bits and pieces that will eventually come together in the end. They almost read like vignettes, and yet when the story finally kicks in there isn't a sense that everything actually is tied together, or that it ever will. It isn't that Paulsen is being crafty, its this feeling that none of it matters. The only clear conflict is that Mudshark is going to be replaced by a parrot, and solving that mystery almost gets lost in the shuffle.The mystery to me is why people aren't more upset with Mudshark for his abilities. He is able to find lost items and answer mysteries only because he witnesses them. Which begs the question: if you see a kid drop his homework folder, why not tell him he dropped it? Why wait until he realizes its missing and then play at being a detective when really all you're doing is withholding information until it makes you look good? To that end Mudshark isn't cool, he's manipulative and his powers rely entirely on luck, not skill.Withholding information is key, because Paulsen does that as well. The mysteries presented cannot be solved by the reader (or at least by a smart reader) they can only be solved when Paulsen/Mudshark explain them. Setting up all these careful mysteries at the beginning leaves the reader hoping there's a great puzzle to be solved, but then before clues can be revealed the mystery is solved. Highly unsatisfying.Paulsen does write with a breezy clarity that makes him a first choice for reluctant boy readers, but this wouldn't be one of my first choices.
hewayzha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another winner by Paulsen. If you are a boy and want a quick read with lots of humor and the kind of guy stuff boys like, this is the book for you.I've always read like a boy so I enjoyed this one.Lyle Williams, otherwise known as Mudshark, is twelve years old and considered very cool. Mudshark is very intelligent and has honed his skills of observation so that he pretty much has a photographic memory. This comes in very handy because he can find anything anyone loses.There are some strange things going on at school and with the appearance of a psychic parrot, things get stranger. Mudshark's principal finally asks Mudshark to help solve the mysteries. You will be very entertained by how Mudshark goes about fulfilling the principal's request. As I said this is short and sweet. It will definitely appeal to those male readers who may not be that thrilled with reading. I think this would be a good read-aloud in a classroom setting. I do believe even the girls would find this funny.It was so quick a read that I found that I wished it would have gone on longer. I also think I would like to read more adventures of Mudshark.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining book for young readers about a boy who, because of his acute observational skills, is excellent at solving problems of the other kids. Crazy things are happening at school, and it's up to him to figure out what's going on.
prkcs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Principal Wagner confidently deals with a faculty washroom crisis, a psychic parrot, and a terrorizing gerbil, but when sixty-five erasers go missing, he enlists the help of the school's best problem solver and locator of lost items, twelve-year-old Lyle Williams, aka Mudshark.
JuliW More than 1 year ago
Lyle Williams, nicknamed Mudshark by his classmates, is the go-to guy at school for finding lost items and solving small mysteries. His mind is always working....his memory is amazing. He can remember where he saw lost items and solve almost any mystery or problem. Pretty good for a 12-year old, eh? But he finds himself with a feathered rival when the school librarian gets a parrot. The parrot seems to be psychic. It can answer kids' questions about lost homework and misplaced books faster than Mudshark can. Rumors shoot around the school in lightning speed that the bird can out-think Mudshark. Will he lose his cool reputation at school? And, if he's being out manuvered by a bird who will find the escaped gerbil, solve the mystery of the faculty restroom and discover why erasers are disappearing from classrooms? Mudshark is on the case.....before he loses to a psychic parrot! This book is incredibly cute and funny. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for months, waiting for me to notice it and start reading. I'm SO glad I finally took the time to read this delightful children's book! This is the first book by Gary Paulsen that I have read....I will definitely be reading more of his writing! Mudshark is a great main character. He likes his position at school....his reputation as an amazing brain. And he gets quite ruffled when he realizes his place might be usurped by a bird. The mysteries he solves are a hoot -- like the kid who wanted to be a magician and made his father's new car disappear.....then couldn't make it re-appear. :) Mudshark solved that problem quickly. :) (Never have a 16-year old cousin "help'' you do magic tricks!) Sometimes I have to take a break from more serious adult reading. Those are the times I just love to read some children's lit. Stories like this make reading fun.....and clear the mind from more serious adult-type thoughts. I had a wonderful time sipping my morning coffee and enjoying this tale of middle school mysteries and challenges. :) Fun read!
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Awesome book and gary paulson is a great book writer.
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