cover image Swap!


Steve Light. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7990-3

A small sailor boy with a knitted cap, friendly smile, and wooden leg spies a dejected sea captain whose dilapidated boat needs an overhaul. Lit with inspiration, the boy swaps a button off the captain’s coat for two teacups, then the teacups for three coils of rope: “Swap!” The exchanges continue in brief, telegraphic sentences punctuated by calls of “Swap!” (a good spot for children to chime in). Light (Have You Seen My Monster?) explores the logic of barter as the friends leverage excess items for things they really need: “One flag for three anchors. Swap! Two anchors for nine sails. Swap!” The boy, the captain, and their acquisitions appear in color while the finely detailed backgrounds are left in black and white (other than the bright blue of the sea). The boy’s wooden leg is a physical difference that isn’t remarked upon and doesn’t hinder him from doing what he likes, and the fact that it’s the boy who comes up with the plan is satisfying, too. Light’s story will leave readers with much to think about. Ages 3–7. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (Feb.)