Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trading Places by Claudia Mills - Book Review

Trading Places
Author: Claudia Mills
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Reading Level: Ages 9 - 12
ISBN: 13:978-0-374-31798-0
Hardcover: 138 pages

Amy and Todd Davidson learn that things in life rarely turn out perfectly and that labels don’t always fit. Amy and Todd are fraternal twins who get along as well as any other brother or sister except they share the same birthday and the same classroom. This is where the similarity stops. Amy is the poet, sentimental and a bookworm while Todd is the engineer, super organized and an over achiever.

As the twins begin their Mini-Society school project things get flipped upside down at home. Their father loses his engineering job and their mother takes a job at the local craft store. The father becomes depressed and hangs around the house in his pajamas all day. This turns out to be an embarrassing situation for Amy when her best friends come home with her after school. Learning how to cope with change becomes a daily experience.

Through the alternating view points of Amy and Todd, Trading Places shows how acceptance of non-traditional roles can open minds to change. Claudia Mills has artfully written about a common problem for many families in today’s changing economy. Her easy going prose presents a realistic solution to a difficult situation in words for the “tween” years.

The fundamental message is about how change can affect everyone in the family, even Wiggles the dog. Amy and Todd learn that change can be good and they learn that opportunities in life pop up when you least expect them too.

This story has all the characters that you would expect to find in a regular classroom. The super shy girl with no friends, the clumsy kid who is a walking accident, the class show off and several more. This is an attention-grabbing read for middle graders.

Write it down,