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

Two young boys dash to the toy box and dig around.  One emerges with a shark toy while the other brandishes a toy train.  So now the sides are clear, but which toy would win a battle?  Well, that all depends!  Would it be underwater or on train tracks?  Would they be eating pies or having a burping contest?  The ideas of the sorts of competitions will have readers giggling in delight as the shark wins one and then the train wins the next.  Each competition is illustrated for humor and the reasons for winning are often surprising and funny.  Get this book into the hands of children as quickly as you can!

Barton’s text is kept simple and easy.  He frames the competition and then steps back to witness who wins.  Towards the end, the competitions get wilder and neither shark nor train are comfortable.  The book ends with the two boys being called to lunch.  The illustrations are a large part of the pleasure and success of this book.  The emotions on the faces of both shark and train will have readers quickly understanding the situation.  There are small touches and asides in the illustrations that bring the story depth and added humor. 

This book is sure to be popular in any library.  Place it face out and it will disappear.  The only question is whether it is the shark or train that gets the book more attention.  Competition anyone?  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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