Skip to main content

Swap! by Steve Light


Swap! is the fifth picture book I have reviewed by Steve Light and I think it just might be my favorite of them! Swap! is simple and elegant in its story and execution and Light's trademark use of thick lined black and white drawings with well chosen chunks of color are at their best here. I was a bit nervous about reading Swap! out loud to groups of students because the story relies so much on the richly detailed illustrations, but it turned out to be completely engaging for my students and a great way to talk about the history of bartering and synonyms for the word swap. 



A youngster (I honestly could not tell if it was a boy or a girl and discussed this with my students, who always were of mixed opinion, telling them that I loved the ambiguity) with a peg leg wants to help a sad friend, a seafaring fellow with a run down old vessel and a mischievous monkey that readers should be sure to keep their eyes on. Swap! begins, "An old ship. A sad friend. A button . . . An idea. Let's swap!" The boy trades his friend's button for two tea cups. Two teacups become three coils of rope. Two coils of rope - the ship needs a new coil of rope and the intricacies of the trades make this counting book a challenge for readers - are traded for six oars.

Oars become flags, then flags become anchors. Sails, hats, ship's wheels, hats, birds and carved figureheads but a smile on the boy's and the sailor's faces. The industry exhibited in Light's illustrations as the friends make their way through the village trading with various craftsmen and craftswomen is marvelous. And Light's sparse but well chosen text leaves much room for imagination and storytelling by little listeners and readers, not to mention the opportunity to discuss bartering and economics. Swap! is a brilliant picture book with a timeless feel that is a joy to read over and over!



More Books by Steve Light!







Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…