I loved Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtnenheld. The story begins with two little boys each grasping a toy – one a shark, the other a train. They try to outdo each other in skill, speed and force, but realize that each is just naturally better at some things than others. The train can roast marshmallows using his bellows but the shark does much better on the high dive. Nobody wants to go on the shark ride at the carnival, while everyone loves the train rollercoaster. The shark does much better at hot air ballooning than the heavy train who just crashes to earth. The story has just the right amount of silly fancifulness combined with a good lesson in understanding ones strengths as well as those of others. The absurdity of trying to do something clearly impossible is well illustrated. The idea that one person isn’t better than the other, just different, is a good one for younger children to hear. I would recommend to everyone with a child under the age of 6. Wonderful!!
Shark vs. Train would be a good book to read in a story time for children between the ages of 4-7. The book would lend itself to a discussion afterwards. I would have an opening question such as, “What is something you are very good at doing?” The children would be happy to share their special strengths and talents and further understand that each child is good at something, but not necessarily everything.
Barton, Chris and Lichtenheld, Tom. Shark vs. Train (2010) New York, Hachette Book Group.
This is a genius concept—the kids’ equivalent of a classic guy bull session, centering on two playmates’ favorite toys. So, who’s better—Shark or Train? That all depends. When trick-or-treating, Shark is the clear winner, thanks to his intimidating smile (“The clown is very hungry,” he says, as a bowl of candy is poured into his bag). But in a marshmallow-roasting contest, Train triumphs by virtue of his built-in, coal-stoked rotisserie. Just when readers will think the scenarios can’t get more absurd (bowling, a burping contest), the book moves into even funnier territory: hypotheticals in which neither comes out on top (their imposing presences make them ripe targets for getting shushed in a library, and their lack of opposable thumbs means neither is very good at video games). Lichtenheld’s (Duck! Rabbit! ) watercolor cartoons have a fluidity and goofy intensity that recalls Mad magazine, while Barton (The Day-Glo Brothers) gives the characters snappy dialogue throughout. “That counts as a strike, right?” says Shark, having eaten an entire lane of bowling pins. “This is why you guys have a bad reputation,” retorts Train.
Publishers Weekly [Review of the book Shark vs. Train]. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/9780316007627