Jacey’s Epic Love of Picture Books: #14!


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

This is one of those books that I have a hard time imagining any kid not liking. (Yes, even girls. Girls can like sharks and trains, too.)

At its base level, it’s incredibly silly — a shark versus a train? — with vibrant, kid-friendly art. The “plot” is precisely what it sounds like: A shark and a train strive to prove themselves against the other in a series of increasingly goofy competitions.

Sometimes, Shark wins. (At trick-or-treating, eating pies, high-diving, bowling, etc.) Sometimes, Train wins. (At shooting baskets, running lemonade stands, giving rides at a carnival, roasting marshmallows, etc.)

“It can depend on who gets to pick first…who names the game…and who deals the cards.”

Sometimes, though, no one wins.

Such as when they’re playing hide-and-seek. Or performing in a piano recital. (“Sorry, the sound of the C always gives me the munchies,” Shark says sheepishly as he sits at his half-eaten piano, with Train’s own crushed piano beside him.) Or playing Extreme Zombie-Squirrel Motocross. (“Sure would help if we had thumbs.”) Or swordfighting on a tightrope. (“Swordfight?! I thought we were having swordfish.”)

And so it goes, until even Shark and Train acknowledge that things are “getting ridiculous,” and that it would, finally, be a good time for a break.

And there’s the real genius of the book, even beyond the giggle-inducing antics. Someone’s always going to be better than you at certain things. You’re always going to be better than someone else at certain other things. That’s just the way the world works, and if you get too caught up in this face, chances are, you’re just going to look like a damn fool.

So, instead, just focus on what you have in common — such as what you both suck at, for instance. :)


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