Switch by Karen Prince
Ethan Flynn, a very, picky boy from Zimbabwe is forced to visit his hateful stepmother and uncaring father during his school holiday. After they forced him to visit, they immediately traveled away on business, transferring Ethan into the care of his Uncle Alan.
His uncle planned to take Ethan, his cousin Joe, and Joe’s friend Tariro on safari. Joe’s friend was jealous at having to share Joe with Ethan, so proposed going to a bush camp with his friends from school instead. He knew the conditions would be extremely primitive, and Ethan, who was very fastidious, and wouldn’t even touch animals for fear that they might drool on him, would certainly not want to go with them. Ethan surprised them and agreed to go to the bush camp.
Almost immediately, tragedy struck. While the boys were swimming, and Ethan and another boy watched from shore, the air shimmered and Joe disappeared. A witch appeared in his place. A leopard appeared nearby. The witch was dragged to the shore and Ethan began to perform CPR on her to get her breathing again.
Once she was revived, it was discovered that she (Gogo Maya) and the leopard named Salih, had been captured by a tribe of the Sokoloshes, hairy little men who were usually only visible to children. To escape, Gogo Maya had used a little trick that she called a “switch.” The problem was that wherever Gogo Maya appeared, the person occupying the space she needed traded places with her.
So, the adventure began. Joe was in the witch’s land of magic, danger, and possible slavery and Ethan and Salih (who could communicate with Ethan telepathically) along with a couple of other boys were off to rescue them.
This is a very compelling story of a magic-filled land. We all have dreamed of a place of magic. Sometimes we forget that we might like to live in place where magic might be as easily gained as drinking the water. This book tells what can happen when such power is taken for granted and foolishly abused. It also teaches of control, compassion, love and the beauty of friendships gained and the sadness of friendships gone away.