Charlie and Frog (Charlie and Frog #1)

by Karen Kane (Author)

Charlie and Frog (Charlie and Frog #1)
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

All Charlie Tickler wants is for his parents to listen.

Charlie's parents have left him (again). This time they are off to South Africa to help giant golden moles. And Charlie? He's been dumped with his TV-obsessed grandparents. Lonely and curious, Charlie heads into the village of Castle-on-the-Hudson, where a frightened old woman gives him a desperate message-in sign language. When she suddenly disappears, Charlie is determined to find answers.

All Francine (aka Frog) Castle wants is to be the world's greatest detective.

Frog, who is deaf, would rather be solving crimes than working at the Flying Hands Cafe. When Charlie Tickler walks into the cafe looking for help, Frog jumps at the chance to tackle a real-life case.

Together, Charlie and Frog set out to decipher a series of clues and uncover the truth behind the missing woman's mysterious message. Charlie needs to learn American Sign Language (fast) to keep up with quick-witted Frog. And Frog needs to gather her detective know-how (now) to break the case before it's too late.

Discover the surprising ways people listen in debut author Karen Kane's page-turning mystery filled with humor, intrigue, and heartwarming friendships. Edgar Award Finalist for Best Middle Grade Mystery

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Kirkus Reviews

An enjoyable read that artfully mixes adventure, heart, and cultural competence.


The mystery here is entertaining, but what makes the book unique is its positive and thorough incorporation of deafness. Kane is a graduate of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and she seamlessly integrates American Sign Language (ASL) and deaf characters into the story, subtly reminding readers that these are capable, complete individuals. A worthy addition to mystery collections.

Publishers Weekly

Ten-year-old Charlie is used to being abandoned by his parents, who spend more time on trips saving animals than with Charlie. This time Charlie is being left with his equally neglectful grandparents, who prefer watching TV to grandparenting, in Castle-on-Hudson, a quirky town in New York. But next could be boarding school, so Charlie begins a campaign to persuade his grandparents to let him stay for good. At the town library, Charlie meets Aggie, an elderly Deaf woman who is being pursued by two mysterious men. Aggie attempts to convey an important message to Charlie in sign language before she escapes her pursuers; concerned, Charlie sets out on a mission to find her. On his quest, he meets Frog, a Deaf girl whose family owns the Castle School for the Deaf. Exuberant, fearless Frog, who wants to be a detective, is a worthy foil for cautious Charlie as they begin following clues to uncover the mystery of Aggie and the book she had been searching for. Kane's debut, a light and engaging mystery, takes on added depth through its focus on the Deaf community. Charlie longs for kinship with others; intriguingly, it's through learning sign language that he finds friendship and connection. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 5-8--Charlie Tickler is once again abandoned by his globe-trotting parents. This time they're off to South Africa in search of giant golden moles. They usually leave him with a nanny, but this time he is sent away to his grandparent's in Castle-on-the Hudson, a Victorian resort town with a real castle. While exploring the town, Charlie visits the library, where an agitated old woman mysteriously disappears after trying to confess something dire to Charlie in sign language. Charlie smells a mystery and is told to enlist the aid of Francine "Frog" Castle, an expert detective-in-training who is Deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL). Charlie and Frog work together to find out who the mysterious old lady is and why two men are trying to find her as well. Enduring a whole host of adventures, including shaky gondola rides across a river, meeting an odd fortune-teller, and exploring a creepy graveyard, the two must put together a set of clues, including a mysterious gravestone cipher. This fast-paced tale features a host of offbeat characters. Kane, who has worked as an ASL interpreter for the Deaf community, warmly depicts Frog's fluent signing and Charlie's efforts to learn the language. VERDICT In addition to a fun-filled adventure, Kane's novel explores the difference between hearing and truly listening. A strong secondary purchase or for larger collections.--Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Karen Kane
Karen Kane has worked as an interpreter for the Deaf community for over twenty-five years. The people she met along the way inspired her writing with their strength, warmth, and humor, especially those in the Deaf community. Karen graduated from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she's not writing, you can find her in the person as a sign language interpreter at Gallaudet University or lost in the stacks of her local library.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
March 20, 2019
Charlie and Frog
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV028000 - Juvenile Fiction | Mysteries, Espionage, & Detective Stories
JUV039150 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Special Needs
Library of Congress categories
Humorous stories
Mystery and detective stories
People with disabilities
Dysfunctional families
Family problems
American Sign Language

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