Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

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Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: A lovely book which tells children they can be different and still fit in.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Nosy Crow
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857631626

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Shortlisted for Roald Dahl Funny Prize Shortlist 2013: The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under

I chose this book because my sons, like most children, have always enjoyed books with naughty children. I had some reservations about the book. I was concerned that it might be yet another book preaching about the importance of good behaviour, as most children's books were at one time, but I noticed the publisher was Nosy Crow, and they seem very keen to publish books with a difference so I took a chance and was very pleasantly surprised.

It's illustrated with simple cartoon like pictures, but they convey emotion quite well. A striped line shows movement and does this very well. Tabitha always seems to be in motion, and I couldn't help smiling at this. They match the story well and are full of life and activity.

There are two main characters. Timothy Limpit is a troll. Most trolls are loud, messy and rude, but Timothy is quiet, polite and tidy. Tabitha Lumpit isn't really bad, but she is messy, very loud and extremely active. And at times she is a bit rude, picking her nose, jumping up and down and shouting. My son felt terribly sorry for her as she jumped up and down in a mud puddle and her parents look on very sadly, wishing she were more like them. Meanwhile, the trolls have been cruel to poor Timothy, telling him he a rubbish as a troll. The two misfits meet and get a brilliant idea. They'll swap places. Timothy goes to live with Tabitha's parents and Tabitha goes to live with the trolls. Remarkably, Tabitha's parents do not notice the difference in their daughter's appearance, but only how neat and tidy she has become.

They both have a grand time for awhile, until they realise that they are no longer different from anyone around them. They enjoyed being unique. Finally, they swap places and go back to their own homes. The trolls had missed Timothy, and were happy to have him back; he brought something unique to their lives. As for Tabitha's parents they were so happy their old Tabitha back that the whole family ended up jumping on the sofa together.

My son really enjoyed this book, laughing at the nose picking parts, and enjoying the noise and excitement. He did feel sorry for both main characters, but most especially for Tabitha, as a parent's disapproval can be a very hard thing for a child to take, but it ends happily. He especially liked the idea of grown ups jumping on the furniture. He enjoyed seeing the trolls politely sipping tea with Timothy as well. These two characters brought something special to those around them, a new way to see the world, and showed them how to enjoy new things.

If you are looking for a book to teach a child the error of their ways, this book is most clearly not the right choice. I have read many parents express disapproval of books that condone what they view as bad behaviour and I could certainly see this book offending these parents. It isn't for everyone, but it suits us perfectly. I like the book because it very subtly tells a child that is OK to be different. That they don't have to be like everyone else to be loved, valued and important. We live in an age where children who are just full of life and energy and excitement are often seen as defective, their energy and overly active behaviour something that must be treated or medicated. It's important to keep in mind that Tabitha never hurt anyone. She wasn't even bouncing about in a restaurant or a place where she would disturb others, only in her own room. She wasn't bad. She was just herself, and her true self was a bundle of bouncing energy. I really liked that in this book, it was her parents that learned the lesson, they learned to accept and love her just as she was.

On the other end of the scale, Timothy is very like the children we often call shy, and sadly this is often treated as disorder as well. Some children are just shy and quiet, and there is nothing wrong with this. Many other children will have some trait that makes them feel different. This book tells them they don't have to change who they are, it's OK to be unique. It also shows children how sad another child might feel when others can not accept them as they are. This book will most certainly not teach your child to clean their room, sit quietly and politely, or stay away from mud. But it may teach them to feel empathy for another child and be more accepting of differences. It may teach them to be kinder to other children, which in my opinion is far more important than a tidy room.

For more by Leigh Hodgkinson we can recommend Don't Put Your Pants on Your Head, Fred and Colin and the Wrong Shadow.

Buy Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson at

Buy Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson at


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