The Swing by Britta Teckentrup Hardback Book Review


Reviewed by Alison Rood

“The swing was a place full of life, dreams and stories.”

This opening line is the start of a beautiful and emotive journey written and illustrated by Britt Teckentrup. Britt has written and illustrated over 100 children’s picture books spanning 30 years. A number of her works have featured on BBC’s Cbeebies, narrated by Orlando Bloom, Suranne Jones, Celia Imrie and George Ezra.

This is my first introduction to Britt, but it is safe to say that after this gem, I will be seeking out more books from her catalogue in the near future.

The Swing is a lovely story about the passage of time. It is about friends, lovers, changing seasons and life experiences.

Whilst it is pitched as a children’s book, with its captivating text and its soft colour illustrations, I can see how readers of every age would appreciate it. At 38, I can hand on heart say that I enjoyed it as much (if not more!) than my 4 year old.

To say that The Swing took me by surprise is an understatement. Who would have guessed that a book about a lowly swing could stir up so many emotions? As I eagerly turned the pages, I flitted between happy, warm, sad, worry, fuzzy, empathy…..

Granted, it doesn’t take much to get me crying, but the combination of words and the simply spectacular illustrations had me in a chokehold.

It arrived well packaged in the post on Tuesday morning. By the end of the day, I had read it twice.

The first time, I read it alone. I so desperately wanted to see what was coming next, but at the same time I also wanted to savour each page, each illustration. I suppose in that sense, the book is a bit like life – you are often excited for the next part, whilst deep down you know that you should be savouring the moment you are in!

The moment I had finished, I couldn’t wait for my son to return from school so that I could share it with him.

Despite him being only 4 (and 3/4s as he is always reminding me!) I would say that he enjoyed this book as much as I did. Reading it with him was a completely different experience to reading it by myself. The dialogue that it created between us meant that it lasted longer than the first time around; we discussed what was happening, why it was happening, how we felt. The fact that Britt Teckentrup’s writing can encourage such thought provoking conversations from a 4 year old is a credit to her.

So that is the deep bit over and done with. Let’s talk about the superficial – how it looks. The beautifully illustrated cover and contrasting plain spine makes this a visually attractive book, one that I wouldn’t mind having out on my coffee table. The hardback element gives it a really expensive, good quality feel. Based on this, and the content, I think it would make a lovely gift.

It would also be a lovely book to introduce into a school/education setting. It would be a great way to facilitate discussions around a wide range of feelings.

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £19.99

Hardcover, 160 pages, 21,0 x 21,0 cm, 150 colour illustrations.

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