When I saw the UPS truck pull up in front of my house today, I knew it was here. The book I had been waiting for! The book I saw on the Kirkus Book list for 2010 and decided to wait until after the holidays to order. You can see I waited a long time. I tore the box open immediately and have already read it, although at this point it’s probably apt to say that it’s a picture book, I’m an adult, and technically, this is a present for my son. Well, he can have it later. I’m busy now.
Summary and Review:
Here’s the plot: it’s a shark versus a train. I know, I know, the title says it all! That’s why I had to get the book. But who will win? Well, that depends, which is the storyline. Are they in an ocean? (Shark.) A train track? (Train.) Roasting marshmallows? (Train: it has a smoke stack, after all.) Are they giving rides at a carnival? (Train: are you really going to ride a shark?) The answers are not in the text, only the illustrations. The battles get progressively silly until the two toys are sword-fighting on a tight-rope, a situation neither is happy with, and you can almost see the imaginations of the two boys getting stressed, even though they aren’t pictured except in the beginning and ending few pages. But luckily, mom calls for lunchtime (it could be dad or grandma–the character is off-book), and the toys are put away (thank you, illustrator, for that great example!) for next time, although they are still talking the talk in the toy box.
I mean, I was an obvious candidate for this book, as evident from the fact that I eagerly awaited it knowing little more than the title. And really, the title was all I needed—it surpassed the expectations of a book with that title. But this is a really fun book. It’s clearly aimed at the boy, testosterone-powered crowd, with its fierce characters and epic battles. Plus, the two kids in the story who play with the toys (although they only make brief appearances) are both boys. But I think girls would love it, too.
Follow-up with the kids:
Okay, this one is both obvious and fun. Let’s encourage some creativity and strike those imaginations. Get a toy shark and a toy train. Or a stuffed elephant and a toy car. Or a … well, ANY two objects really. And play Shark Versus Train! Invent situations and talk about who would win. Make sure your toy talks it up, saying why he would win, and encourage your young son to do the same with his toy. When possible, act out the situation for real. Get physical. Make sure the game isn’t too quiet–I don’t think Shark Versus Train should be a quiet game. There should probably be some non-violent aggression going on.
Moms, get down on your knees and let your BOY out! (And the actual boy whose been cooped up in the house with you all winter.)