Monday, May 24, 2010

Shark vs. Train

Shark vs. Train written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
(Hachette Book Group) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library

About six years ago, the Discovery Channel ran a series of shows called Animal Face-Off. Two animals that could possibly meet in the wild were pitted against each other using computer animation.  Scientists would spend the first half of the show debating the merits of each animal in battle and then we would see the animated battle in the second half with one animal emerging victorious. I was completely fascinated. My favorite episode title was Sperm Whale vs. Colossal Squid. It was a feast of absurdity. 

I was reminded of this show while reading Shark vs. Train, written by Chris Barton (Day Glo Brothers) and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Duck!Rabbit!). Two boys are playing with their toys when the series of battles between shark and train come to life. The shark is victorious in battles with a marine setting while the train fares better on land. For example, the train wins the battle of running a lemonade stand since the shark's stand is underwater and customers complain about his watery lemonade. Each battle is completely absurd and hilarious. Look for the Happy Days references near the end.

A kindergarten class previewed Shark vs. Train and gave it several thumbs up. Even though it is an excellent text to use for teaching inferences, I would only stop on a few pages to ask students why they think the shark or train won that particular battle. You don't want to interrupt the most important lesson with this book which is to have fun.

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