Frederick Fly-Catcher by Helen C. Johannes

Frederick Fly-Catcher by Helen C. Johannes
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (80 pages)
Age Recommendation: 10+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Frederick the frog isn’t looking for adventure. His life in the family pond—hanging out and catching flies—is perfect. Or it would be if a bully wasn’t harassing the youngest frogs. To defend them, Frederick accepts a fly-catching challenge, but what he catches isn’t an insect. It’s a magic ring, and Frederick has swallowed it! Whenever he burps or coughs, something terrifying happens to the pond.

“Frogs shouldn’t have anything to do with human things,” says wise Uncle Ben, so to protect his family, Frederick must leave the only world he knows.
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The world beyond the pond is frightening, but rather than hide or mope, Frederick sets out to get rid of this dangerous human thing. His only hope is to find the small human who tossed the ring into the pond, the boy chased by big men and bigger horses. The boy is in trouble, too, but how can Frederick, one little frog, save a human, much less the pond from an evil sorcerer?

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, including small, green ones.

This was the first time I ever remember reading about a character who accidentally swallowed a magic ring. Small details like that one were what made Frederick’s adventures stand out to me. While they followed many of the rules about what should happen in a fantasy story, the ones they purposefully bent in order to surprise or delight the audience were what made this such a fun read. The author clearly knew this genre well, and it showed.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to the world building in this story, especially when it came to the characters and their backstories. There were some fascinating things going on with the other creatures Frederick met while he was on his quest to get the magic ring out of his throat and back to wherever it was supposed to go. The connections between everyone were briefly touched upon, but there was so much going on that it sure would have been helpful if those explanations had been a bit longer and more detailed.

The magic in this universe was delightfully unpredictable. At first I wondered what the rules governing it were, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t meant to figured out ahead of time. Anything could happen each time Frederick burped, coughed, or otherwise jostled it as it was lodged in his throat. The best thing I could do was to relax and enjoy the ride, so that’s exactly what I did.

Frederick Fly-Catcher should be read by anyone who is looking for a lighthearted adventure.

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