Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked



Plot and jokes forced but harmless in detective parody.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Young readers will get an idea of the structure and elements of detective fiction, and learn a little bit about what police detectives do and what high school culture is like.

Positive messages

Kids, like detective Zengo, learn it's important to think before you act; a careful approach -- not rash behavior -- is needed to solve difficult problems.

Positive role models

Zengo is guided by loving, supportive parents; by his wise, good-hearted partner, O'Malley; and by the memory of his brave grandfather, who inspired Zengo to become a police detective.

Violence & scariness

Platypus police officers use boomerangs (not guns) to stop crime. Zengo and O'Malley investigate a missing-person case that could turn out to be a murder case. Zengo reveals that someone he loved was killed by a convicted criminal, but the murder happened before this book's plot begins and is not described graphically.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked is the first in a series of middle-grade detective novels by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of the popular Lunch Lady series of graphic novels and Punk Farm picture books. In this volume, rookie detective Rick Zengo and his wise but hapless partner, Corey O'Malley, investigate a missing-person case that leads them to an illegal fish-smuggling ring. Young readers might not grasp the author's attempt at parody with these Platypus versions of typical fiction or film detectives, and the use of "illegal fish" as a stand-in for what might be a  drug-smuggling plot in an adult novel. However, there's a decent dose of slapstick and family-related kid humor here that readers might find funny, and the book contains nothing objectionable or frightening.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

On his first day as a member of the Platypus Police Squad, enthusiastic rookie detective Rick Zengo is assigned to be the partner of experienced detective and family \"man\" Corey O'Malley. When the detectives are called to investigate a crime on the docks, they stumble onto a case that involves a missing schoolteacher and illegal fish. Zengo believes that all the evidence leads to Frank Pandini Junior, the giant panda big-wig who seems to control every business in town, but Zengo's overzealousness makes him behave rashly, and he gets himself and his partner into trouble with the police chief. By the end of the story, Zengo has learned to approach police work more methodically and carefully, while still fighting the good fight.

Is it any good?


Kids who like mysteries may find the story and characters entertaining, and there's some slapstick humor for kid-level laughs, but so far this series is benign but unthrilling.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka parodies police detective fiction in PLATYPUS POLICE SQUAD; THE FROG WHO CROAKED, creating a kid-ified version of a crime story starring various wild animals as police officers, a club owner, high school students, etc. Unfortunately, most of the humor and plot devices come off as  forced to grown-ups and may be largely lost on kids -- kind of a lose-lose situation. Also, the plot involving illegal fish smuggling, while a funny substitute for familiar adult fare, is convoluted, and it's not clear why some kinds of fish are illegal. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why detective stories are so popular. What's fun about seeing animals solve crimes instead of humans?

  • Have you read the Lunch Lady books by the same author? Which do you like better, and why?

  • Try writing your own mystery or detective story. Who would be the crime-solver, and what would he or she investigate? Where would it take place?

Book details

Author:Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Illustrator:Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:May 7, 2013
Number of pages:226
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide