HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Trading Places
Author: Claudia Mills
Jacket Illustrator: Karine Daisay
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2006
Related website(s): http://www.fsgkidsbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: General youth fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Mills, Claudia. Trading Places (Published in 2006 by Farrar Straus and Giroux, 19 Union Square West, New York City, NY 10003). Todd and Amy Davidson are twins who live in Denver, CO, with their parents and their fourteen year old sheepdog Wiggy. The two are students in Ms. Ives’s fifth grade class at Riverside Elementary School. Todd’s best friend is Isaiah Quinn, the class klutz, and Amy’s best friends are Kelsey Newell and Julia Fuller. Todd and Amy may be twins, but they’re complete opposites. Todd is organized and is the family “engineer,” while Amy is disorganized and has been dubbed the “poet.” However, for a class economics project, Todd can’t think of a single idea and has to work with clumsy Isaiah, while Amy isn’t allowed to partner with Julia and Kelsey and gets stuck working with Violet LaFarge, the class crybaby. Yet this is nothing compared to the switch their parents have made.
Their engineer father has been unemployed for months and just sits around the house, uncombed and unshaven, in his ratty old bathrobe, while their mother has started to work at a crafts store in the mall. How do Todd’s and Amy’s school projects turn out? Can Mr. and Mrs. Davidson stop their bickering? Will life ever return to normal? The main take-away lesson from this sometimes humorous story, with chapters told in the third person that alternate between Todd’s and Amy’s points of view, is that one must learn how to accept failure and adapt to changing roles. There is also a message that people may surprise you. Some childish slang (“pee”) occurs, but no cursing or profanity. The book illustrates that things rarely turn out perfectly in life, but they often work out well enough, and it may open discussions about peer pressure and self-identity.