Operation Frog Effect

Back to Story Central
Back to Parent Guides

Operation Frog Effect coverWhat the Book is About:

For Aviva, Kai, Emily, Henry, Blake, Kayla, Sharon, and Cecilia, fifth grade means a wonderful teacher and a class pet frog. It also means changing friendships and being put at a table with kids they don’t like. When a social action project goes badly wrong and their beloved Ms. Graham is suspended, the kids must put aside their differences and work together to save her job. Told in eight voices through journal entries, letters, verse, film scripts, and comics, this is an engaging read with important messages about bullying, immigration, and poverty

Jewish Content and Values

  • Aviva’s parents are Israeli, and she calls them Ima and Abba.
  • The family celebrates Hanukkah with latkes; gelt; and a dreidel, and they have Shabbat dinner, including candle-lighting and challah. It is mentioned that the family does not eat bacon because they’re Jewish.
  • Aviva realizes that a class experiment that separates kids into whistlers (who receive preferential treatment) and non-whistlers (who sit at the back of the class) is related to their study of the diary of Anne Frank and segregation in the United States.
  • The children’s well-meaning attempt at social action (tikkun olam, repairing the world) goes wrong, and their teacher ends up getting suspended because of it. The kids do teshuva (repentance), working together to right the wrong that occurred as a result of their actions.

Positive Role Models

  • Ms. Graham tells the children that it is important to be kind, and that “you get to choose what kind of person you want to be.” She inspires the children to “speak up when we see injustice” and tells them that honesty is not an excuse for being mean.
  • Aviva inadvertently cheats in a relay race that her team wins, and she admits her error to the teacher even though Ms. Graham hadn’t noticed. Aviva is the only one to speak up and tell Ms. Graham that the discrimination against non-whistlers is wrong. After bowing to the will of bossy Kayla and excluding their best friend Emily, Aviva eventually finds the courage to stand up to Kayla and rekindles her friendship with Emily.
  • Aviva, Emily, Sharon, Kai, Blake, Kayla, and Henry put their differences aside and work together to get justice for Ms. Graham.

Content Advisory

A scruffy man with tattoos pulls up in his car while Aviva is on her way to school and asks whether she has seen his dog. She panics about stranger danger and runs away. The man reappears when the children decide to sleep under a bridge among homeless people for a social action project. They are frightened, but the tattooed man is not a threat; he is concerned for their safety and calls the police. There are consequences at home and school for the children’s foolish though well-meaning actions. Later, Emily is upset that her father is away so much and writes to him, “Having you gone SUCKS.” She then apologizes “for the bad word.”

Talk it Over

Ms. Graham tells the kids, “You get to choose the kind of person you want to be.” Have you ever been the kind of person you don’t want to be? What did you learn from that experience? What kind of person do you want to be?

More for You

Ms. Graham tells the children that one kind act can lead to another, and that such acts can have a positive effect on many lives. The concept of acts of loving kindness (gemilut chasadim) is a key Jewish value. Even though their plan to help homeless people goes awry, for the kids in Ms. Graham’s class, the impulse behind it is very much in the spirit of gemilut chasadim. Jewish communities around the world help homeless people in different ways aside from raising money: In Toronto, Ve’ahavta, an outreach van service, delivers food and offers advice on counseling and access to health care; Atlanta’s Congregation Shearith Israel has been running a winter women’s shelter called Rebecca’s Tent for 35 years; in London, Finchley Reform Synagogue turns into a shelter for a week over Christmas, with members cooking and serving food to the temporary residents.

Click for the BBB Business Review located Agawam, MA