This was an advanced reader copy for the April 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: Charlie & Frog (A Mystery)
Author: Karen Kane
Middle grade and young adult novels have a habit of making adults (especially parents) inept. Poor Charlie’s story is no different. His parents and grandparents are self-interested, and between one thing and another, Charlie always comes in last. Throughout the book, Charlie’s attempts inspired pity. My frustration grew when the next few adults were just as useless – until we learn there are a few not only capable adults but capable of recognizing and caring for Charlie.
Frog finds herself in rather different circumstances. With a strong family and intelligent parents, Frog suffers more from the knowledge that she lives in a bubble community. Castle-on-the-Hudson has a school for the deaf, and as a result, a high population of American Sign Language speakers. In a world which favors the hearing, Castle-on-the-Hudson had a similar feel to areas in my home city of Rochester which has the Rochester School for the Deaf and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (part of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)).
Sign language lessons, budding friendships, and a murder mystery make Charlie & Frog a pleasant ride. Some of the turns might be predictable, but the story is achingly heart-warming. I predict a number of little boys and girls will read this and beg their parents for ASL lessons.