A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Swap is about a middle school boy and girl who swap bodies thanks to a Freaky Friday-like spell. There's some puberty talk -- about periods for girls and morning erections for boys -- and talk about crushes and other people's bodies. Main characters Ellie and Jack stage a kiss for their friends before holding hands and walking away, and a girl invents a story about a boy kissing her. There's one fistfight at school between two boys, one of whom is the class bully. The protagonists learn to appreciate both typically masculine and feminine traits: Ellie stands up for herself in a big way, and Jack learns that letting out his emotions can be very healing. The Swap could open up some conversations about who has it harder during puberty, boys or girls. Parents also could use the book as a way to talk about bullying.
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What's the story?
Who has it harder during puberty: girls or boys? In THE SWAP, readers get a chance to find out when a Freaky Friday-like situation lets two teens see what it's like on the other side. Ellie, falling apart after being "dropped" by the queen bee, and handsome jock Jack, banged up after a fight with a class bully, meet in the middle school nurse's office. There, a strange nurse recites a spell that puts them in each other's bodies. They learn about some of the hardships in each other's lives (Ellie's parents are recently divorced, and Jack's mom died, after which his dad became a strict disciplinarian). But they learn some good stuff, too: Jack learns how good it feels to let out his emotions, and Ellie likes being pushed by Jack's supportive but demanding athletic brothers. In the end, they use their strengths to help the other become a happier, healthier person.
Is it any good?
Author Megan Shull puts a creative twist on a fun, if familiar, idea, and both Ellie and Jack's authentic voices come to life in alternating chapters. The gender differences can be somewhat stereotypical (Ellie's mom takes her to a hair salon for a treat and let's her sleep in her big comfy bed, whereas Jack lives with a former military dad and three tough but loving brothers). But there's a sweet lesson about both boys and girls facing challenges with friends, family, bullies, and their own bodies as they stumble through puberty.
However, readers may get frustrated by the overly neat ending, which zaps attention away from what they thought the book was about. Readers who decide to skip the last 20 pages or so may find they like The Swap a whole lot better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who has a harder time during puberty, girls or boys. Did you opinion change after reading The Swap?
What do you think is the best way to handle someone who's bullying you? What's the best way to deal with cyberbullying?
Both Ellie and Jack write down their personal goals. What do you think is the point of doing this? Try making your own list.
- Author: Megan Shull
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: August 26, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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