Monday, February 24, 2014

PB 14:14 Day 11: CHARACTER with "Shark vs. Train"

Only 4 days left in the challenge so far to read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days. You guys are rocking it out right along with me. Awesome! Remember I'll make a master post when we're all done so you can come back and visit and study the posts again and again. Week 2 winners and the Grand Prize winner will both be announced this Friday, the 28th.

On to today's Story Element #1, Character. This book is SO much fun! And why wouldn't it be? Just look at those captivating characters! This is probably my weakest lesson thus far, but it is certainly, by no means, a weak book. Quite the contrary. Just Google the title in images and see how much other stuff pops up (jammies, toys, even watermelon carvings)!

TitleShark vs. Train
Author: Chris Barton
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Year: 2010
Words: about 310 words. I counted. And included the "dialogue clouds."

Makes me wish my little boy was four again. He's 9 1/2 now. Makes me want to run out and buy him a train and a stuffed shark. The premise of this book is so unique. Two brothers (or maybe friends?) are digging through their toybox and find a shark and a train. One boy says to the other in the character of the shark, "I'm going to choo-choo you up and spit you out." And the other boy says in the character of the train, "Ha! I'm going to FIN-ish you, Mackerel-breath!" And on and on it goes...

Who will win?

Well, that depends on if they're... in the ocean, on the tracks, on a seesaw, or in hot-air balloons. Each "what if" depends on how they each react or would fare in each of those situations. But the thing that really makes it shine is the unique voice of each of the characters in the "dialogue boxes" (or whatever they're called). They're punny, right along with the illustrations. It's fun to imagine who's better at what. There are two adults on several of the pages giving scores from 0 to 9 on big scorecards.


It's fun to try to keep up with the score. My children love to do this and always say that one or the other wins. Every time, we go back through the book and tally up the marks. It's a tie - every time.

That's all I've got for today. If you have read this book and would like to make some extra teaching points, please share in the comments. Thanks!

AND...add your link...


  1. I had heard of this book, and wondered how the characters competed! NOW I see...great approach, and unique way to propose the conflict. Loved this.

  2. what a fabulous story, and how great is it when kids use their imagination like that. I am really appreciating all the posts and the books. :) Thank You

  3. Wow, that looks like it's very much my kind of humor. I bet my kids would love it! Thanks again for another great analysis.

  4. This book looks like fun. My reading list is getting longer and longer and longer. But this is a good thing. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading this book.

  5. Putting two characters together that would normally never meet is an idea that seems to be very popular right now and makes for some unique stories.


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