In Leigh Hodgkinson's newest book, Troll Swap, the story feels familiar but the illustrations are completely engaging and very funny, making for a great read out loud. Hodgkinson is also the author of the charming fairy tale update, Goldilocks and Just the One Bear and, with Marnie Edwards, the superb Magical Mix-Ups series of books that let readers finish the story with their own words and artwork!
Troll Swap introduces us to two very different characters, Timothy Limpet and Tabitha Lumpit. Timothy is a hairy troll who is a great disappointment. He is not a "messy, mucky" creature. Timothy is "nice and polite and tidy." And so is his cave. The other trolls are mystified by Timothy and he stands out like a sore thumb. Tabitha is "loud and loopy and messy," has a laugh like a giant foghorn and she would rather "pick her nose than a flower any day of the week." Feeling frustrated and like outsiders, Tabitha and Timothy stomp off, pondering their predicaments, which is exactly how they cross paths and make a troll swap.
You can probably guess how Troll Swap ends, but that doesn't make getting there any less fun. In addition to her exuberant, kooky, colorful illustrations, Hodgkins adds a brilliant touch to Troll Swap by printing the dialogue in the world bubbles of the "nice" characters in crisp, clean print with each letter neatly underlined and the words of the "messy" characters in a clunky block lettering. The final pages with Tabitha and Timothy fitting back in with their respective tribes while at the same time showing off some of their newly learned traits makes for a great ending.
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