Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

How have I not reviewed this yet?! I've read it at school visits, storytimes, more school visits, and it's circulated so heavily since we got it last May that I've already had to tape the pages a couple times.

The premise of the story is simple: You have a shark. You have a train. You have a series of increasingly insane situations. Who wins? Well, it all depends...if they're underwater, falling through the air, eating pies, having a burping contest, choosing board games, get the idea.

The story is framed spreads of two small boys playing with their toy train and shark. Older kids will quickly realize of course, that it's all in the boys' imagination. But who cares if you know it's real or not? It's FUN! A marvelous interactive book for storytime - some of the situations are obvious, some are a little tricky, so be prepared to mediate between Team Shark and Team Train when there's a reasonable doubt. If you have a smaller, older group of kids, they'll enjoy reading the speech bubbles. With a younger, bigger audience it's better to stick to the basic text and focus on the kids' interaction, as you discuss the various advantages.

Lichtenheld's art is stunningly hilarious, peppered with small jokes and effortlessly conveying the craziness of the situations with a bulging eye or wildly waving train wheels. The story and art blend seamlessly together to create a truly humorous story, perfectly in tune with the way real kids play, and enjoyable for the whole family.

Verdict: A must have for your libary. Read it at storytimes, on school visits, and to random children walking through the library. Create your own shark vs. train scenarios (Teddy Bear vs. Squirrel! Clouds vs. Airplanes! Zombies vs. Unicorns! You get the idea) or have a Shark vs. Train party with shark and train hats and various challenges for the teams.

ISBN: 9780316007627; Published April 2010 by Little, Brown; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (twice)

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