Review by Amanda Smith
Hannah Jordan lives in a Gilded Age mansion. Well, actually, she lives in the converted servant’s quarters of a mansion. Her father is the caretaker of The Elms, one of the most esteemed historical properties in Newport, RI. Hannah is a history buff and loves all things antique, but mostly she adores the reproduction portrait of Maggie and longs to spend a day in the rich heiress’ shoes.
Maggie is the twelve-year-old niece of the coal tycoon who built The Elms. Even though she loves her aunt and uncle, she finds her life mundane. Portrait sittings, tea with her stuck-up cousin, lawn tennis, and her aunt’s stifling opinions on what girls can and cannot do leave Maggie wanting.
In FREAKY FRIDAY-like fashion, Hannah and Maggie swap places though a mirror in the mansion. Hannah, who revels in everything 1905, is set on solving the mystery surrounding the heist of the original Maggie portrait, with the help of kitchen boy, Jonah. Both girls believe solving the heist will switch them back. While Hannah plays investigator and has to swallow archaic beliefs about women, Maggie navigates modern technology, encounters vastly different family relationships, and experiences the liberties and opportunities brought about by the women’s rights movement.
In this fun mystery adventure, the reader goes on a time traveling journey with Hannah, and experiences the wonders and restraints of the Gilded Age through the eyes of a modern twelve-year-old. The narrative leads the reader to reflect on today’s privileges and liberties that are often taken for granted. An endearing cast of characters strings readers along multiple twists and turns. They are forced to make difficult decisions and have us rooting for them all the way.
Even though THE ART OF THE SWAP (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin; 2018) has two girl main characters, the adventure and mystery aspect, humorous situations, and a strong male character in Jonah make this a story boys and girls will enjoy. The story sheds light on women’s rights and gender inequality. It had both my sons thinking, noticing, and commenting. THE ART OF THE SWAP is an enjoyable book to read aloud with your kids and a perfect classroom book for 5th - 7th grade that will springboard interesting and important discussions.
Hop on over to our blog here to read how Kris and Jen co-wrote THE ART OF THE SWAP.
Review by Francine Puckly
This book pick begins with a disclaimer—all of us at 24 Carrot Writing have been intimately involved with Annie Cronin Romano’s debut picture book, Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Gratitude (Page Street Kids, 2018). This included reading and critiquing numerous drafts as Annie journeyed with this story from rhyme to free-verse and back again. Despite that by the very nature of our involvement we are biased toward this story, this picture book is an enchanting, rhythmic and comforting story about tucking in one’s senses before dropping into the night’s slumber.
Annie gently takes the readers and young listeners of the story through the sounds, scents, tastes, sights, and touches experienced during the day. Ioana Hobai’s soft and luscious illustrations add to the calming effect. Before You Sleep is a perfect way for helping little ones mentally wrap up their day and establishing a bedtime mindset. This book will delight young readers and parents alike!
Annie’s voice is lyrical, and she evokes emotion and response with her careful word choice. She shows in this manuscript how important it is to make every word count. In addition to thoughtful, tight text, Annie uses unexpected experiences to highlight these senses, bringing a new experience to her readers.
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