The Swap

The Swap

4.6 16
by Megan Shull

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Coming soon as a Disney Channel Original Movie, Megan Shull’s smart and funny twist on Freaky Friday is perfect for fans of Wendy Mass, Jerry Spinelli, and Jon Scieszka!

With one random wish, Jack and Ellie are living life in each other’s shoes. He’s her. And she’s him. ELLIE assumed popular guys didn’t worry about body

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Coming soon as a Disney Channel Original Movie, Megan Shull’s smart and funny twist on Freaky Friday is perfect for fans of Wendy Mass, Jerry Spinelli, and Jon Scieszka!

With one random wish, Jack and Ellie are living life in each other’s shoes. He’s her. And she’s him. ELLIE assumed popular guys didn’t worry about body image, being perfect, or talking to girls, but acting like you’re cool with everything is tougher than it looks. JACK thought girls had it easy—no fights with bullies, no demanding dads, no power plays—but facing mean girls at sleepovers and getting grilled about your period is way harder than taking a hit to the face at sports practice.

Now they’re dealing with each other’s middle school dramas—locker room teasing, cliques, video game battles, bra shopping, and a slew of hilariously awkward moments—until they hopefully switch back! Told in both Jack’s and Ellie’s voices, The Swap offers a fresh and honest take on tween friendship, all while exploring more serious themes of family, loss, empathy, and what it really means to be yourself. And as Jon Scieszka says, it’s “seriously, truly, fearlessly funny!”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s a familiar premise: two kids, struggling in their own situations, somehow switch places and experience each other’s lives, which then helps them gain an appreciation for their own; Shull’s twist is that the two kids are of different genders. Seventh-grader Ellie O’Brien is struggling to fit in ever since her former best friend turned on her. Popular eighth-grader Jack Malloy just wants to play hockey with his older brothers, but his strict father thinks life is about striving for perfection. Ellie and Jack barely know each other, but when a chance meeting in the nurse’s office results in a body-switch for the weekend, they get to walk in each other’s shoes—and discover they kind of like them, even despite some awkward moments involving unfamiliar body parts. Shull (Amazing Grace) keeps this story fast and fun (though the body-switched scenes take some getting used to, at least initially). No real surprises are in store, but the premise will still leave readers with plenty to think about. Ages 10–14. Agent: Margaret Riley King, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Kathleen Beck
It is the first day of school at Thatcher Middle School. Ellie (seventh grade) and Jack (eighth) meet in the nurse’s office, where Ellie is hiding from the mean girls in gym and Jack, having been in a fight, is dreading the reaction at home. If only we could swap, they ponder. Hmm, says the quirky new nurse, maybe just for the weekend? And suddenly the two switch bodies. Now only-child Ellie faces three older brothers and a rigid father, while Jack, nicknamed “the Prince of Thatcher,” learns what it is like when your erstwhile best friend decides you are a social zero. Over the weekend, each must star at a new sport (soccer for Jack-as-Ellie, hockey for Ellie-as-Jack), navigate a sleepover (purple pajamas and girlish confidences for Jack), and make it to Monday without giving the swap away. Ellie finds new friends and new confidence, while Jack learns self-control and compassion. Now, how to change back? The story is true to the middle-school experience and often funny. Jack’s hockey-jock brothers speak an impenetrable patois, which is first baffling, then annoying, then just amusing. Ellie’s mom is almost too understanding, while Jack’s dad’s ultimate transformation is abrupt. The magical element remains undeveloped, and the shifts in narrator are sometimes difficult to follow. Refreshingly, Jack and Ellie end as good friends rather than boyfriend—girlfriend. Shull succumbs to the temptation to wrap things up too sweetly, but humor and astute observation of social dynamics save the day. Reviewer: Kathleen Beck; Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Emily B. Cook
Middle schoolers Ellie O’Brien and Jack Malloy are both struggling. Ellie, whose parents recently divorced, is awkward and insecure. She desperately wants to stay friends with Sassy, her best friend who’s become a popular girl and bullies Ellie at every turn. Jack is good-looking, popular, and a star athlete. The trouble is he and his four older brothers just lost their mom and work unsuccessfully to please their dad, The Captain. Ellie’s insecurities and Jack’s inability to control his anger land them both in the nurse’s office, where they commiserate about how much easier things would be if they could just switch lives. In a twist of fate, that’s exactly what happens. Ellie has to assimilate into the Malloy family, where The Captain’s expectation is perfection and life runs like a military command. Jack is thrust into Ellie’s life, filled with girl drama and a mom who dotes on his every need. For Ellie, a grueling, miserable grind quickly becomes an empowering transformation when she finds her strength and confidence as part of the intense, loving Malloy boys. She also reaches The Captain in a way the boys were too afraid to for fear of losing the one parent they have left. Jack realizes that being a girl is not easy as he navigates the mean girls and pressures of middle school through Ellie’s eyes. Ellie’s mom also fills a void, allowing him to grieve the loss of his mom for the first time. While initially it seemed this book would offer nothing unique, it has a delightful twist. Ellie and Jack both experience positive personal growth and tackle many typical middle school challenges as they overcome bullying, loss and emotional roadblocks. The ending is a warm, pleasant surprise that wraps things up in a very satisfying way. Reviewer: Emily B. Cook; Ages 10 to 14.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—This is realistic fiction with a twist—two characters form an unlikely friendship when they swap bodies. Meet Ellie: a girl who lives with her mom and is entering seventh grade with her former best friend, Sassy. Sassy is crazy in love with Jack Malloy, "The Prince." Jack, an eighth grader, has it all: good grades, athletic ability, great manners, and good looks to boot. When circumstances land both Jack and Ellie in the nurse's office on the first day of school, they admire the ease at which each other has it in life. The next thing they know, that strange new nurse is gone and they are in each other's bodies. Now they have to make it through the weekend—filled with soccer tryouts, doctor appointments, hockey practice, and sleepovers—before they can get the nurse to switch them back. Told in alternating perspectives, Shull creates two authentic main characters with unique tween voices. They deal with familial issues (death, divorce) as well as social (bullying, sibling relationships, friends) with clumsy grace. The book is heartbreaking and hilarious—truly evocative of middle school experiences. A great, entertaining read that will appeal to boys and girls. Readers may wonder what happened to the nurse and yearn for an explanation of the switch, but ultimately this is a highly recommended purchase.—Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Seventh-grader Ellie O'Brien and eighth-grader Jack Malloy are given a surprising gift when they are suddenly able to literally view life through each other's eyes.Ellie feels lost and afraid following her parents' divorce and a brutal dumping by her best friend. Jack's life, dominated by his father's regimented control and his overpowering brothers, feels claustrophobic. Switching minds gives each kid the opportunity to experience life on the other side while gaining perspective on his or her own. Navigating the world of fist-bumping and older brothers helps Ellie develop the mental toughness to fight her own battles. In Ellie's life, Jack finds the parental acceptance and love that has been missing from his own. Alternating chapters offer each a chance to tell his or her story. The internal lives of both boy and girl come across as authentic and heartwarming. Unfortunately, when Jack and Ellie interact, it is often unclear who is who, which muddies what could be some of the most engaging passages. Occasionally clunky dialogue and a too-perfect ending are the only bumps in this otherwise engaging switch-up.Readers curious about how the other half lives will thrill at this view from the far side of the fence. (Fiction. 10-14)
Frances O'Rourk Dowell
“Funny, honest and touching, The Swap is the perfect book for tweens ready to learn what’s going on inside the minds (and bodies) of the opposite gender. Jack and Ellie are such wonderful characters and those brothers-wow!”
Jon Scieszka
“A beautiful feat of swapped voices. Hilarious! Seriously, truly, fearlessly funny. And I don’t want guys to miss it.”
Meg Cabot
“Bravo, Megan Shull! Hilarious and yet surprisingly touching at the same time, The Swap gives us a microscopically close insider’s view at the differences (and similarities) between the lives of boys and girls. I don’t know how Megan did it, but I’m really glad she did!”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Megan Shull is the award-winning author of five books for kids, including The Swap, which has been optioned for film. She holds a doctorate in educational psychology from Cornell University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree. Born and raised in Ithaca, New York, Megan lives and writes in her hometown—a small college town surrounded by waterfalls, quiet, rolling hills, and secret swimming holes.

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