‘Swap!’ has a really colourful and beautifully illustrated cover, and N was instantly attracted to it when he saw it at the bookshop. I don’t normally buy books in physical bookstores, because I can usually get better deals online, but this book was on sale, and N really liked it, so I got it for him. (Yes, we are both book addicts!)
A little pirate helps his captain friend repair his damaged ship, by ingeniously swapping an unwanted button first, for two teacups, and slowly, the two buddies gather enough resources to makeover the ship. At first glance, it’s a simple story about friendship, but you’ll soon realise that it’s actually a lesson in critical thinking and resilience, together with a bit of simple Math thrown in.
I liked how the items swapped were highlighted in colour, as it helps young readers to identify both the new and old items swapped. I must confess that when I first read the book with N, I didn’t realise that they kept some of the items for themselves (I only figured it out during the second reading). This therefore allowed me to get N to do some simple subtraction, but he got annoyed with me after a while, and asked to “just read the story, don’t ask how many are left”. Oops. I guess it does get distracting, when we keep stopping, but I really thought it was a good opportunity to incorporate some learning into his reading! I also wanted to ask him to think about what other items the damaged ship would need, but maybe I’ll do that when we haven’t read the book in some time, because I think he can still remember the swapped items at the moment.
‘Swap!’ is a fun book to read, especially if you have kids who like pirates (and Math). You can learn about the various parts of a ship, and also highlight how the little pirate is undeterred by their lack of materials initially, and is quick-witted enough to start their barter trade with just a small button. Maybe it’s the Lit teacher in me, but I really love books that reveal more and more learning points upon repeated readings (though my ex-students will probably insist that I’m overanalysing everything).
******* Buy the Book Swap! on Book Depository