I was sent a copy of Charlie & Frog for review. All opinions are my own.
When I heard about this book, I was interested in it because it’s a middle grades book and seemed like something that would appeal to boys. While this book will also appeal to girls, since I have middle grade boys in my house, that’s where my book interest is. And it’s often difficult to find books that would appeal to boys, especially ones who can be a little reluctant to pick up a book for fun.
Charlie & Frog by Karen Kane has enough quirkiness to keep a reader from ever saying they’re bored. The mystery will keep kids guessing. After I described a bit of the plot to my 9 year old, he decided he wanted to read it.
Charlie’s parents are pretty awful. They do good work helping animals but they don’t seem to care too much about their son, which is how he ends up in the town of Castle-on-the-Hudson with his grandparents. His grandparents are more interested in watching tv than in spending much time with Charlie (despite his efforts to involve him in typical “grandparent” activities).
But it’s okay because all of this lead to Charlie heading out into town, to the library, where he meets Aggie. She seems really upset about something and frantically looks for something. She signs a word that Charlie doesn’t know and shortly after, disappears.
Charlie heads to the castle, which is a school for the deaf, run by the Castle family. Frog Castle tells him that the sign means “death” and insists that there is a murder mystery happening that she wants to help Charlie solve.
The two look for clues and try to figure out what happened to Aggie.
Along the way, we meet many quirky characters and try to solve the mystery along with the pair.
There’s the interesting element of Charlie and Frog figuring out how to communicate with each other. Sometimes they write, sometimes they have an interpreter, other times they finger spell (Charlie had a basic understanding of this before meeting Frog) and Frog (and sometimes her family) teach Charlie signs. Some of these are described (and illustrated at the beginning of the chapters). Hearing kids who read this book might be interested in learning more about sign language after reading this book while kids who are deaf might enjoy seeing themselves represented in a story.
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