The storyline of Leigh Hodgkinson’s Troll Swap is familiar, but her playful language and hilarious illustrations bring freshness to a simple story of children who don’t quite fit in with their families.
We meet colorful, hairy Timothy Limpet, who is unlike other trolls. Despite his pointy teeth, he is polite and tidy, and his cave is “not at all damp, dark, or squelchy—thank you very much.” The other trolls think he is a particularly lousy troll. Perched alone on a pile of boulders with a big frown on his face, Timothy feels quite terrible.
A lousy troll and a naughty little girl switch places—with hilarious results.
Next enters Tabitha Lumpit with a giant “Hello!” She seems ordinary in her bright green polka-dot dress. But, unlike most boys and girls who are nice, polite and tidy, Tabitha is “Loud, Loopy and Messy.” Notably, she would “rather pick her nose than a flower any day of the week.” Her parents’ frowns make it clear that they would prefer her to be nice and polite and tidy, just like them.
Tabitha thinks being like other boys and girls is impossible, and Timothy knows being a disgusting troll doesn’t come easily. One day the two accidentally clonk heads, meet each other and come up with a “swappingly” good idea. Things go well until Timothy gets a little bit “thumb-twiddly” and Tabitha begins to feel ordinary among the trolls. In time, the trolls enjoy a very civilized tea with Timothy, and Tabitha is back bouncing on the sofa with her parents.
The zany illustrations and slightly irreverent language ensure that parents will enjoy reading Troll Swap often. Hodgkinson clearly understands the serious nature of fun.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When she's not making handmade books or writing articles and book reviews, she enjoys "extreme cooking" with family and friends.