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LEAP, FROG by Jane Cutler


by Jane Cutler & illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-34362-4
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Fraser Brothers, Edward and Jason, are back and they are hopping with the day-to-day adventures that make the series appealing. Three unrelated stories are awkwardly drawn together by a new addition to the neighborhood, Halliburton Charles Pembroke O’Hara, called Charley. Charley is the high-energy first grader who surprises the neighborhood children and their parents with his karate kicks, loud yells, and unexpected body movements. These tales of suburban elementary-school life, with “egg-babies,” frog-jumping contests, and a train trip to a children’s theater are sometimes overwhelmed by Charley’s antics. Jason and his friends can barely stand to be around him. But Charley does have one friend. Edward Fraser, at eight, seems a little too patient with his new neighbor and Charley seems amazingly compliant when Edward tries some management tricks picked up by observing Mrs. O’Hara’s rather rare interactions with her son. “Charley, rub your belly, stand on one leg, shake like jelly, now give me the egg.” These little poems stop Charley mid–karate kick and help him switch gears. Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, though initially annoyed by the little boy’s behavior, accept him because he is their son’s friend. The length, small typeface, and only occasional illustrations make this a daunting challenge for the audience who would most enjoy the story—early chapter book readers. Yet, the sweetie-pie story line is too saccharine to be believable for older intermediate readers. The vignettes would have been better as separate stories, with more of the exuberant illustrations to bring life to the action. (Fiction. 9-11)