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Book review: Swop the Satsuma-Sized Secret

Book cover

Written by Lucy Noguera
Available from bookstores
Price: £6.99 RRP
Ages: 5 to 10

Reviewed by Martha (10), who is moderately to severely deaf and wears hearing aids.

Girl with book

"‘Swop the Satsuma-Sized Secret’ is about Ernie, a boy who’s just moved from the countryside to the city. He finds a tiny dog and names him Swop. When Ernie has his first day at school, Swop comes with him without Ernie knowing. Then a boy in his class discovers his secret about this creature. They have a long day and get through it.

The book is good for boys and girls, but I think deaf children would be especially happy with it because there is a character named Ivy (Ernie’s sister) who is deaf. When I read the first chapter, I felt curious and excited because I love animals in books, especially dogs, and a tiny one made it even better. It was easy to read by myself because I was engaged when I was reading it. I know how Ernie feels trying to keep a secret, but things keep happening that make it really tricky! I also related to Ivy because she wears hearing aids like me.

‘Swop the Satsuma-Sized Secret’ reminded me of another book I read recently called ‘Noah’s Gold’ by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. They’re both about adventure and trying not to cause trouble. It also reminded me of ‘A Dog So Small’ by Philippa Pearce, a book my mummy read to me at bedtime.

‘Swop the Satsuma-Sized Secret’ definitely made me think about deafness because Ernie used signals to communicate with Swop. I liked that there were several illustrations with Ivy using sign language, and there’s a fingerspelling alphabet at the end. The book helped me to see what it feels like to start a new school. I’d buy it because I’m deaf and I want to read stuff about deafness. I’d recommend it to a friend because it’s a fun adventure about a boy and his tiny dog, and most of my friends love dogs!"