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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  113 reviews
An old ship. A sad friend. A button . . . An idea. Let’s SWAP!

In a young scalawag's first tale of bartering, a peg-legged youngster sets out to help his captain repair his vessel. One button for three teacups. SWAP! Two teacups for four coils of rope. SWAP! And so it goes, until the little swashbuckler secures sails, anchors, a ship’s wheel, and more . . . including a happ
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Candlewick Press
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  489 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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The Library Lady
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is Caldecott caliber, but probably will be missed by that earnest set of reviewers in favor of some new and trendy piece of nonsense.

A pirate and his mate (son) refurbish their vessel by swapping one item after another till they have a rejuvenated ship, complete with a figure head and a parrot. The use of color vs. black and white is masterful, there are tons of details to pore over, and just enough text, as the pictures tell most of the story themselves. Ingenious
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read for Librarian Book Group
Very fun story of swapping items for other items and eventually getting what you need. The illustrations were grand and this book could possibly double as a coloring book for those with good fine motor skills.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
First sentence: An old ship. A sad friend.

Premise/plot: Two pirates (one adult, one child) find a way to fix their old ship by bartering. It starts with a red button that falls off of a shirt. That button is swapped for two tea cups. Those tea cups are swapped for three coils of rope. The swaps get progressively more complicated. Readers may or may not catch on immediately to what is going on. (Part of each trade is being held back to repair their ship. Part of each trade is being used to keep
Steve Light rules. Swap is a super fun picture book about taking what you have and swapping for the other stuff you need. There are some good math things, not just counting but also addition and subtraction. It's kind of like a big silly word problem. It would be a fun book for a pirate story time and you could totally sing the pirate version of zoom zoom zoom with it!

Also it's the kid version of trading a paper clip for a mansion (or whatever that was).
Dani - Perspective of a Writer
Check out more Picture book reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

A little swashbuckler goes a'bartering in hopes of helping his captain make his vessel seaworthy! One button for three teacups. SWAP!

The art in this is divine! My personal favorite type of art is pen and ink! The touches of color are perfect and really the art is a budding artist's dream. I had SO many favorite spreads in this book. The flag swap is so, so gorgeous and the 4-pack squares when they were repairing the ship!! GAH! Of
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
LOOOOOOVE the illustrations. Tempted to bump up to 5 just for that because they're so fun to look at. The story is cute and fun too!
A young boy comes across a ship's captain who is heartbroken because his ship is in such poor shape. The peg-legged boy decides to help his friend gather the supplies he needs to fix up his ship by swapping or bargaining for what they need. They start one one red button off the sailor's coat, which they trade for two teacups. The two teacups are traded for three coils of rope. Two coils of rope are then traded for six oars and so on and so forth until the boy and the sailor (and a monkey) have v ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books

3.8 stars

Got this title from a list of best picture books of 2016.

A young, peg-legged pirate helps his sad friend scrounge up the ingredients to make a new ship to replace the old, worn-out ship. It all begins with the pirate swapping a button for another item. More swapping ensues. With each swap, the elements of the new ship are accumulated. The illustrations show what both the swapper and the swap-ee do with their swapped items.
Edward Sullivan
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A series of swaps leads to a new ship. Cleverly illustrated and interesting to see the little boy with a peg leg instead of the captain.
Franki Sibberson
I thought this was fun. Lots in the pictures and definitely some math possibilities!
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Two sailing friends with no money and an old worn out ship make a series of advantageous swaps until they have the things they need to rehabilitate their ship.

Steve Light’s fountain pen drawings animate the visual part of the story as some illustrations are left uncolored and others are filled in with rich ink and gouache. The illustrations filled in with color blue of the water are the biggest visual treat and the other pieces that are in color highlight his main characters and the items swapp
Jo Oehrlein
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: math, picture-books
In the grand tradition of Radar O'Reilly, Swap starts with a ship in need of everything and a button. From that button, two people start their trading and eventually end up with what they need to revitalize the ship.

From a math perspective, it would be fun to diagram out the trades to show what they had left. You could also write equations showing 1 button = 2 tea cups, etc. Of course, the more interesting equations would be the one not explicitly on the page. For example, how many anchors was t
Dimity Powell
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-lit
Black and white line drawings mingle enticingly beside gay bursts of colour in this book of counting and thing spotting. The notion of trade is artfully applied in an atmosphere bristling with pirates and buccaneers. Older readers will delight in keeping track of the all 'swapped' items as one captain and his best mate endeavour to turn a situation of nothingness around to something of great personal value whilst younger ones will find the illustrations pure joy. A clever way of depicting making ...more
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
My almost-six-year-old boy (learning to read at school) finds this very engaging for a few reasons I think: (1) There's a map of a sea journey at the front; (2) mathematical concepts involved (3) simple language with lots of repetition of the word "swap" (4) great illustrations with an interesting juxtaposition of detailed black & white drawing with a few full-colour elements on every page.
Urbandale Library
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
BEAUTIFUL. I adore the illustrations in this book. It's fantastically detailed and sparsely colored. The text is simple which makes it a great book to focus on the wonderful pen and ink illustrations. This book will transport you to a beautiful fantasy world and a story about friendship and ingenuity.
Tina Hoggatt
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delightful and clever story of how a button is swapped for two teacups and the subsequent swaps lead to a fully restored pirate ship. Everybody wins! The illustrations are especially pleasing and filled with details for the young reader to discover.
The Brothers
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trades, ships
A sparsely worded story about a young crew member helping a sad friend turn his beat-up old boat into something better through a series of swaps.

Lovely illustrations. Liked they way the artists uses color.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Illustration I. This book is fun and with tons of details. Like the idea of teaching kids counting and the concept of exchange. Only if everything is real life is always like what happened in this book. Chances are like that in many cases, people exchange big for small.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
Penny-trades. ;D
Liz Todd
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
So fun! Pictures mostly tell the story. Beautiful, interesting.. unique. Love.
Susanne Davison
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kiddy-lit
Great illustrations, but story is uninteresting.
Shayna R.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
There's nothing wrong with it, but I found it too simplistic with not enough actual content to keep me engaged. The premise is cute though.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book wherein the text is only a couple of words per page, but the story is fleshed out fully enough in those few words that it needs no more. Through continual trading, a young pirate manages to outfit an older pirate friend's entire ship. The real highlight in this would have to be the illustrations. They are very effective, partially black and white line drawing and partially painted. They are just gorgeous. The book is a lot of fun to read, though it is a fast read. All in all, it's just a ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-50-stars
3.5 Stars I liked the concept of this book! Swap for what you need. The ink drawings are good but not my taste. I felt bad that the little pirate (a kid) had a peg leg. It made me a little sad! Over all it was a fun one! Barter system can be fun!
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Much in the style of What About Me?, a young lad embarks on a clever enterprise of swapping extra items for goods in order to refurbish a broken-down old ship.

The storyline and pictures are so clear, the book almost doesn’t need any text. What’s even more interesting than seeing the young boy switch one item for another is seeing the innovative uses to which the items are put. Oars, flags and ship wheels get new lives in decidedly quirky ways.

Intricate black-and-white drawings of wooden wheels
Jennifer Kilton
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This story starts out with two sad friends noticing that their ship is very old and beat down. A button falls off one of their shirts and they trade it with a young woman for some teacups. Then they trade the teacups for some coils of rope. They trade two of the coils for six oars. They continue to trade numerous different things until they have enough parts to fix their ship and make it brand new. Then the two friends are happy again and set sail on the open ocean.

You could s
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who ever tried to play a game of ‘Trade Up’ will appreciate this simple yet smart picture book by Steve Light. We begin the game with a genial pirate captain and his trusty young first mate who are unsatisfied with their dull, run-down vessel. Soon an idea develops when they reach the market and barter a button for two teacups, which then gets traded for three coils of rope and then six oars. Before long, the reader is drawn into the game, the visual sub-stories, and the changing use of c ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum

Do you remember that story a couple of years ago about the guy who exchanged a paper clip for a house? The idea being that he started with one red paper clip and kept swapping things for bigger and better things until eventually I swapped for a house. This is that story in essence. Trading back and forth, One button for three teacups, keeping two teacups and swapping one for something else, until the captain has everything they need for a fine saili
Heather Stigall
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, pb, reviewed
I love so much about this book. It’s got pirates, maps, monkeys, mermaids, teacups, maritime flags, fish, anchors, peg legs, and, most of all, a message of friendship and kindness. And it all starts with a button. A pirate boy sees that his friend’s ship is in disrepair, so he encourages him to trade a button for two teacups, which are then traded for rope, and so on and so on, until the bartering leads to a happy pirate and a happy ending. Steve Light’s minimal text is matched with his signatur ...more
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The captain of a decrepit, old sailing ship sits dejectedly on the dock at loss as to what he should do next. His friend suddenly has a brilliant idea - swap a button for two tea cups! But wait he is not done. Next he swaps the cups for ropes, a rope for oars, oars for flags, and on and on. Finally, they have all they need to make an old ship new.
The busy pen-and-ink illustrations use color to emphasize the current action of each trade, while the black and white backgrounds show the results. The
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Steve Light grew up in an enchanted place known as New Jersey. He went on to study Illustration at Pratt Institute, he also studied with Dave Passalacqua. Upon graduating he did some corporate illustrations for companies such as: AT&T, Sony Films, and the New York Times Book Review. Steve Light then went on to design buttons that were acquired by the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. He has since p ...more
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