All Charlie Tickler wants is for his parents to listen, but Charlie’s parents have left him with his TV-obsessed grandparents while they travel to South Africa to help giant golden moles. 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 Café. When Charlie Tickler walks into the café 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 (ASL) fast to keep up with quick-witted Frog. And Frog needs to gather her detective know-how to break the case before it’s too late. Discover the surprising ways people listen in this page-turning mystery filled with humor, intrigue, and heartwarming friendships.
Discussion questions from SOMN
- Did you know any ASL before reading the book? What signs did you learn in the book? Which ones were your favorites?
- What did you learn about deaf culture from this book?
- Define communication. In what ways did characters in this story communicate? Were there any difficulties or obstacles in communication, and how were they overcome? What traits did the characters have that helped them persevere?
Classroom activities from SOMN
- Research fingerspelling and practice spelling your name. This video is one way to learn. Then research names in the deaf community and explore how names are signed. Watch this video on name signs for a good starting point.
- Research videos of interpreters for speeches, concerts, etc. Work together as a class to learn how to sign a favorite poem or song. Practice and give a performance.