Tag Archive: competition


too tall houses

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino

Rabbit and Owl live right next door to one another at the top of a hill in separate small houses.  Rabbit likes growing vegetables and Owl likes the view of the forest.  They were good friends.  Until one day, Rabbit’s vegetables got so tall that they blocked Owl’s view of the forest.  Rabbit refused to cut his vegetables down, so Owl built his house taller.  Then Owl’s house was blocking the sun from reaching Rabbit’s garden, so Rabbit built a taller house and put his garden on the roof.   So started the competition to have the tallest house.  And my, do the houses ever get taller and taller! 

Marino does a great job of telling a story that has the heart and soul of a classic folktale.  The friendship and competition between the two animals carries a subtle lesson that is masked effectively in humor.  She doesn’t back away from carrying the tale to its very funny extreme ending.  The story is kept simple, allowing the illustrations to carry much of the story forward.

Marino’s illustrations have the colors of fall and warmth.  From the orange branches Owl uses to create his home to the terra cotta bricks of Rabbit’s, the colors are bright and autumnal.  As the houses grow into the sky, the colors are cooler, emphasizing that they are leaving the comfort of their warm homes and creating homes simply to beat someone else. 

This is a funny, warm and memorable read that will get your audience laughing.  Perfect for reading aloud any time of year.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.

Shark vs. Train

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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