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SWING by Michael Hall


by Michael Hall ; illustrated by Michael Hall

Pub Date: May 12th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-286617-2
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

New friendships form when the preconceived notions of various characters are broken down through play.

At recess, four anthropomorphic letters, each a different shape and color, head for the swings. L arrives first and is asked by V to play. With overt disdain, L rejects V for living on the wrong side of the alphabet. When E makes the same polite request, V refuses to play with vowels. The chain of bigotry continues as O, who arrives last, is spurned because it is round. Arguing ensues until O suggests they just swing. They pump and go higher and faster, and the joy of swinging takes over, and that fun becomes a shared experience. When the letters land, they are now in a new place—literally and figuratively—as they have transformed into the word “LOVE.” True to his past work, Hall uses digital illustrations full of simplified graphic shapes made to look like cut paper to explore sophisticated concepts. Done in a mostly primary palette, the letters with their block appendages are effective and charming, and thoughtful compositions help convey their shifting emotional states. As Kathryn Otoshi does in One (2008), Hall uses personified shapes to show both conflict based on outward appearances and assumptions and resolution. Teachers will appreciate it as a conversation starter when discussing how to move beyond stereotypes.

Another positive title for the anti-bullying shelf.

(Picture book. 4-8)