Reviews for Shark Vs. Train


Booklist Reviews 2010 April #2
Maybe they haven't pitted this exact pair against one another, but there's little doubting young boys' ability to spend hours and considerable blocks of imagination smashing different toys together in a knock-down, drag-out battle royale for romper-room supremacy. The opening spread shows two boys digging through a toy box, each pulling out a fearsome competitor. In this corner, there's Shark (I'm going to choo-choo you up and spit you out); and in the other, Train (Ha! I'm going to fin-ish you, mackerel-breath). The bout gets progressively more ridiculous with each escalating shift in setting and rules. Early rounds in the ocean and on the tracks are split; Shark has the upper hand on the high-dive, and Train in giving carnival rides. Neither turns out to be much good at the Extreme Zombie-Squirrel Motocross video game (no thumbs) or sword fighting on a tightrope. Barton's imaginative and wacky scenarios are knocked home by Lichtenheld's ferociously funny artwork and will leave kids measuring up their dump truck and T-Rex for the next tale of the tape. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
If a shark is pitted against a train, which would win? The answer depends on the contest: the train's belch is louder, but he's no match for the shark when jumping off the high dive. Barton's deadpan text--sparked with dialogue balloons that give the characters both personality and one-liners--is matched by Lichtenheld's spot-on visual humor. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #4
This clever picture book asks readers to ponder that age-old philosophical question: if a shark is pitted against a train, which would win? Well, it turns out that the answer depends on the contest. In a burping competition, it's obvious that the train's belch would be much louder than the shark's; and when it comes to making lemonade, the train's desert stand is much more successful than the shark's underwater business. However, the train is no match for the shark when it comes to bowling (the shark is pictured with shards of bowling pins sticking out of his teeth, asking, "That counts as a strike, right?") or jumping off the high dive. Barton's deadpan text-sparked with dialogue balloons that give the characters both personality and one-liners-is matched by Lichtenheld's spot-on visual humor. The framing conceit is clever as well, with the book's opening pages showing two boys each choosing an object out of a toy box-a train and a shark, which morph into our fierce competitors (and back again, when an offstage voice calls the boys to lunch and they toss the toys back into the box). Fortunately for delighted readers, the shark and train continue their trash-talking bravado ("Next time, you're history, soot-spewer." "Next time, you're sunk, squid-slurper"), leaving open the possibility of a rematch. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #2
With two boys at a toy chest, one clutching a shark and the other a train, thus begins the most unlikeliest of competitions. Who will win--shark or train? Well, it does depend on the situation. If underwater, the shark will surely triumph. But at roasting marshmallows? The train beats the shark's soggy mess every time. From one wacky circumstance to the next, from bowling to hot-air ballooning, there is always a clear winner. Until, suddenly, there is not. Both the shark and the train are not very good at playing hide and seek. They also stink at video games ("Sure would help if we had thumbs"). Just when the competitors can't bear it any longer, it's time for lunch. The boys toss them carelessly aside--until next time, that is. Lichtenheld's snarling shark and grimacing train are definitely ready for a fight, and his scenarios gleefully play up the absurdity. The combatants' expressions are priceless when they lose. A glum train in smoky dejection, or a bewildered, crestfallen shark? It's hard to choose; both are winners. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 February #3

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. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

[Page 127]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 April

PreS-Gr 2--When a boy with a toy shark faces a train-wielding companion, it sets off a series of imaginative and very funny contests between fish and machine. The result of each battle depends on the setting. Shark wins at high diving, not surprisingly, while Train comes out on top when it comes to burping. Other face-offs are less immediately obvious: Train stretches vertically to triumph at basketball, while Shark's sharp-toothed clown costume works best for trick-or-treating. In some situations, neither combatant fares well: as Train comments on the scoreless video-game competition, "Sure would help if we had thumbs." The cleverly chosen contests reflect the imaginative powers of kids while retaining the consistent logic that's also essential to play. The notion of a shark and a train trying to be quiet in a library is absurd, for example, but the reasons why neither would succeed make perfect sense. Energetic cartoon illustrations take full advantage of the visual possibilities. Creative use of page space and perspectives gives a fresh look to each new battle. Just-right facial expressions capture the distinct personalities of the two competitors, including an evil grin from Shark at the Ping-Pong table and Train's uneasy look during a disastrous piano recital. Subtler visual details add to the humor, including a shark-jumping Fonzie reference that adults will appreciate. This inspired pairing, executed with ingenuity and packed with action and humor, is a sure winner.--Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR

[Page 120]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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