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Shark vs. Train

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Shark VS. Train!

If you think Superman vs. Batman would be an exciting matchup, wait until you see Shark vs. Train. In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do YOU think will win, Shark or Train?

40 pages, Hardcover

First published April 1, 2010

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About the author

Chris Barton

27 books77 followers
I'm the author of picture books including bestseller SHARK VS. TRAIN, Sibert Honor-winning THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS, and WHOOSH! LONNIE JOHNSON'S SUPER-SOAKING STREAM OF INVENTIONS, which has been included on 21 state reading lists.


My new books include MOVING FORWARD: FROM SPACE-AGE RIDES TO CIVIL RIGHTS SIT-INS WITH AIRMAN ALTON YATES (illustrated by Steffi Walthall; a School Library Journal Best Book of 2022) and GLITTER EVERYWHERE! WHERE IT CAME FROM, WHERE IT'S FOUND & WHERE IT'S GOING (illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat; June 2023).

I visit schools by the score and also love speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and fellow writers.

I'm married to middle-grade/YA novelist Jennifer Ziegler (WORSER, HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR). Jennifer and I have four adult children and one dog, and we co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…” in which we talk with other authors and illustrators about the dedications they’ve written for their books.

Jennifer and I live in Austin, where I serve as a council member of the Texas Institute of Letters, a 501(c)(3) non-profit honor society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement.

For more information about me, please visit www.chrisbarton.info.

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5 stars
2,366 (38%)
4 stars
1,900 (31%)
3 stars
1,325 (21%)
2 stars
394 (6%)
1 star
126 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 548 reviews
Profile Image for Matt.
3,718 reviews12.8k followers
December 31, 2017
In this comparative piece that pits a shark against a train, the narrator poses numerous scenarios in which both will come head to head. Sometimes the shark seems to have the upper hand, while there are others that the coal-devouring train cannot be topped. There are others where it seems to be a draw. In the end, the question remains... which is better? Stemming from the premise of two boys playing with toys, Neo was able to see how the shark and train were pitted against one another. He guessed who he thought might win in each battle scenario, offering up his own justification. Oh, how I like to see that brain process ideas!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,240 reviews
August 12, 2010
This is a super fun read, and would make an especially good "boy book" (I generally don't like labeling books like that, but I know parents and teachers are really on the hunt for books to get their boys into reading and I think this is a great choice!) There's a friendly competition between the shark and the train, and it highlights the fact that we are all have different strengths and weaknesses. The shark and train are in a variety of amusing situations, like playing basketball, being an amusement park attraction, and even playing video games--sometimes the shark is better, sometimes the train is better, and sometimes neither one of them excels. I mean, really, a shark or a train playing a video game? (As they say, having thumbs would really help, haha!) In the end, there is no clear winner--except the two boys who had a really great time playing with their shark and train ;-) Super adorable without being "cutesy" and also lots of fun!
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,112 reviews186 followers
March 6, 2019
With its amusing tale of competition between a shark and a train - really a toy shark and toy train, wielded by two enthusiastic young boys - this entertaining picture-book captures the joy of imaginary play, particularly the imaginary play of young boys. The ornery shark and cantankerous train try their hand at everything from eating pies to offering rides at a carnival, alternately triumphing over one another, while exchanging sarcastic remarks. Will the train emerge victorious at the end, or will his selachian rival rise to the occasion?

Does it matter? The fun in Shark Vs. Train is in the play itself, something author Chris Barton and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld obviously understand, judging by both narrative and artwork. The tone here is light, with plenty of amusing asides, as Shark and Train mutter to themselves, or challenge one another, and the illustrations are amusing. I loved the alternately pleased and chagrined expressions on the faces of the two competitors! I try to avoid labeling books as being exclusively for either boys or girls, but while I do think this is a tale that girls too will enjoy, it definitely has quite a bit of "boy appeal." Very funny, and lots of fun!
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,759 reviews1,218 followers
October 9, 2010
This wasn’t grabbing me at the beginning but as it went on, I really appreciated the story and the pictures. Two young boys are playing, one with a shark and one with the train. Well, ahem, the shark and the train are relating with one another. Each page is another friendly, and often amusing, competition between them. First one, then the other, does best at a particular activity (in a hot air balloon, roasting marshmallows, trick or treating, going off the high dive, etc. etc. etc.) and then they start doing things that they both find challenging (playing hide and seek, playing a video game when they both lack thumbs, etc.)

It’s all a lot of fun and I love the message about everybody having different strengths and weaknesses is not as important as the pure silliness and the power of imagination. The illustrations are a hoot too. I know parents and teachers sometimes find it challenging to find books that boys will enjoy. This is a book boys, and girls too, will enjoy. According to the author’s bio in the back of the book, he has a son who’s enthusiastic about both trains and sharks.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
258 reviews
September 8, 2020
A classic in the making only made better by being read out loud by a friend.

When two little boys pull a shark and train toy out of their toy box, the ultimate showdown commences. Which one will conquer? Which one will lie and cheat to get ahead? And which one will even be able to survive.

The drama. The intensity. The great sound effects. It can't get any better, folks.
Profile Image for Jess.
2,450 reviews25 followers
February 8, 2012
Given a certain situation, who would win: shark or train?

The moment they see the cover, kids fall into like with this book. I mean, sharks, right? It looks sweet and it's even kind of funny. BUT, it is terribly awkward and tricky to read aloud. It's a Monarch so I gave it a go with K, 1st, and 2nd and man, not easy.

It's a larger picture book, but the details are small. It's got some funny situations, but many require explanations, especially when you're dealing with kids under 3rd grade. When you have to explain a joke, it isn't funny.

Here's what you want to know:
Will it get checked out? Constantly.
Would this be good for one-on-one readalouds? Yeah.
Group story times? Nope.

If you had any success reading it to large groups, let me know how you did it, please!
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 87 books1,476 followers
January 19, 2010
This picture book from the author of the DAY-GLO BROTHERS is one of the funniest I've read in a long time. The premise is simple - two boys pull toys from a toy box and start a battle with them. One has a shark, the other a train, and the result is a hilarious series of competitions in which Shark and Train face off in everything from high-diving to trick-or-treating. Laugh-out-loud text with fun, lively illustrations and a lot of little details in the art that add another layer of humor for moms and dads reading aloud. Loved it!

Reviewed from an F&G from ALA Midwinter - available in April 2010.
March 21, 2019
It's time to decide the age old battle of... Shark vs. Train??? Sure the train has the advantage on the railroad tracks and the shark is going to do better underwater. But which one wins on a seesaw? Or at basketball? As they struggle to get the upper hand the stakes move from the curious to the silly. Who wins at hide and seek? Trick or Treating? Or in space???

Why it is brilliant: This book helps little readers develop comparative analysis skill in a way that is both fun and engaging. You can begin to ask them questions like, "Why do you think the shark wins underwater?" Or, "How do you think the train will do in a hot air balloon?" (Spoiler - not very well!)

The superb illustrations and comic style captions keep the tone light. And the twist at the end will encourage your little reader that anyone, even someone their age, can have a great deal of fun with as they compare and contrast the world around them. Now it's time for their own creative battles to begin!

You can read more of my reviews at https://ayneblogsite.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Mitchell Friedman.
4,567 reviews170 followers
March 12, 2022
I like picture books that start with good ideas. But then again I also like picture books like this one. From the very title this is a stupid book. But it's also smart and clever. Two boys, possibly twins, pick their favorite two toys from the toy bin and try to decide which is better. Relatively simple but well done art, but the writing is well done. But the serious goofiness on each page is what does it for me. And then its lunch time. 4.5 of 5.
Profile Image for ColumbusReads.
401 reviews61 followers
July 27, 2017
Shark vs Train in a series of battles of all types. The sound of me and the 4-yr old (yyyyaaaawwwwnnnnnn!)
Profile Image for Lonnie.
151 reviews2 followers
July 5, 2022
책에서 만나는 우리 애들 ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ
28 reviews
February 23, 2017
A book about a competition between a shark and a train. In the beginning the location of the competitions are equally divided between the shark and the train where either is proved to be victorious in that field. For example, there is a pie eating contest that the shark wins because obviously a train does not have a mouth. Then there is a carnival rides competition that the train is the clear winner of. As the book goes on the cards are stacked against them both placing them in situations that neither could possibly win in. Neither can win the video game competition because neither of them have thumbs to operate the controllers. At the end the two little boys who are pitting the shark and train against each other return the shark and train back to the toy box because it is time for lunch. The illustrations are busy yet hilarious at the same time. Seeing these two characters actually competing in these events is entertaining to see and the speech bubbles are an added comedic bonus.
47 reviews
January 22, 2018
This book was ok, but not really interesting. Mainly about two kids playing with toys and seeing which toy can out do the other.
Profile Image for Rita Crayon Huang.
66 reviews41 followers
February 3, 2011
Brilliant concept. Genius!! This book is a perfect gift for every imaginative three-to-eight year old you know (and that's all of them), by which I mean that you-know-it-when-you-see-it stage that often starts before three and lasts well beyond eight--when kids start randomly pretending they're tigers and panda bears, engaging in contests, liking trains . . . Okay, this book is for everyone. You see a kid, and you can't help but want to give them this book. (That's my favorite Chinese grammar construction, by the way: "can't help but." Fei bu ke. Wo fei gei ni zhe ben shu bu ke! Probably doesn't even make sense.)

This book is doubly genius from a writer's perspective, in that I can't imagine the audacity of the author, Chris Barton, coming up with this magnificent concept ("Shark vs. Train: Who Will Win?") and proposing a whole string of ridiculous contests, and then punting the problem of the outcomes to the illustrator. Hahahaha!! (Of course, many of the contests appear to have foregone conclusions when you read the book. But imagining writing it before the illustrations existed is hilarious.)

UPDATE: Alas! As I was posting this, I realized I could--and should--look up the reality behind my fantasy of this book's making. I went to Alvina's "Beyond the Book" blog post about Shark vs. Train, and now . . . all is explained. Chris Barton did not punt his magnificent concept to whichever illustrator the publisher chose. Instead, said illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld, immediately obtained explicit permission from Little, Brown to collaborate directly with the author, and they back-and-forthed intensely between themselves and their editor throughout. (This is an exception. Normally, picture book writers and illustrators that have been paired by a publisher do not communicate, and authors expect to have little-to-no influence on illustrations once their stories have sold. Hence, my fantasy.)

Read more about it at the above link. You can even see a piece of Chris Barton's original manuscript there, including dialog, and an alternate cover! From there you can also follow further links, such as to this fascinating interview at Seven Impossible Things, which includes Shark Vs. Train outtakes!
Profile Image for Sweet on Books.
96 reviews5 followers
May 12, 2011
Shark vs. Train is an entertaining tale about what happens when one young boy finds a toy shark in the toy box and another young boy finds a toy train. This begins a battle royale with a series of amusing face-offs. Who will win in the ocean? Shark, of course. Who will win on the railroad tracks? Another predictable one. But the fun begins when author Chris Barton's inquiries start to get more unusual: who will run a better lemonade stand? Apparently Train, because Shark can't compete with a lemonade tank! And how about Trick or Treating, who will triumph in that activity? Clearly Shark will and he doesn't even need much of a costume to scare all the treats right out of the bowl and into his bag.

This amusing book will delight young children. The humor is sophisticated and clever enough to entertain both parent and child. It's a celebration of imagination. The illustrations are terrific, as well. Adults reading this book: take a look at the spread of the shark trying to jump the cars, one actually has the words A. Fonzarelli Leather Co. on it. What a funny take on the Happy Days "Jump the Shark" episode!
Profile Image for Amy.
1,131 reviews
July 9, 2011
Shark vs. Train surprised me a bit. I really wasn't expecting the kids to really like this book that much, but I was wrong. The text is pretty funny, the pictures are cute and easy for kids to process, and my 3 year old nephew got the concept of this book right away. Both kids were very interested to see who was going to come out on top in this contest between unlikely rivals.

This book is another that is perhaps a little challenging to read out loud, though. There are several conversational "bubbles" above the characters' heads throughout the story, and those are just always hard to translate to the kids without losing the flow of the story. I found myself having to include words in the story to make the transition between the narrator and the conversations between the characters more seamless. I just find books with this kind of approach to dialog to be a little harder to read out loud.
Profile Image for Janene.
480 reviews8 followers
November 4, 2011
Here is why I like and review this book. It was just the comical neutralizer we needed around here, with the boys' continual rivalry and one upmanship between their toys. Who is the best, the fastest, the highest, the most amazing? Who wins?

This book plays with this question by matching up unlikely rivals, the shark and train (and even frames it within two boys picking the two out of the toy box).

Shark vs. Train. Who will win? Well ..... it depends on what the contest is. From sword-fighting, to high-diving, to selling lemonade. Through this story, we find that each have their strengths (and weaknesses) in what turns out to be an even-matched battle in the end. AND, more importantly, sometimes the contest is just plain silly. So lets put the toys (and comparisons) away and go eat lunch.

The illustrations, as well, were top notch. And that I really look for.

Do you have little boys? Go read them this fun book.
Profile Image for Steve Tetreault.
1,281 reviews
February 12, 2017
This SEEMS like a brilliant idea for a kids book, and the cover illustration cracked me up, so I figured it was worth a read.

And it might be worth ONE read. But parents aren't going to want to come back to it more than once, and I'm not sure kids will, either.

The central conceit for how a shark and a train end up battling each other, I thought, clever. But the rest of the book is only so-so. There are a few cute background illustrations, but mostly, this is a short series of oversized pictures with a sentence across each splash page.

I honestly wasn't sure what I was expecting when I picked it up, but this one left me feeling let down.
Profile Image for Dusty.
774 reviews184 followers
June 17, 2016
I like this book, which pits a scary shark against a heavy train in a number of silly competitions. The first several times I read this book to my son, I struggled to figure out exactly what to say, especially as many of the pictures invite sound effects and need to be explained to a three-year-old. Now that I've read the book 50 times, though, I appreciate the complexity. Sometimes we spend more time with one picture/competition than the others, and so the experience is different every time I read it.
Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,945 reviews122 followers
January 18, 2014
One of my preschoolers favorites. They love the idea of pitting a shark against a train, and of course, in their opinion the train would always win, hands down. Going through our hundreds of books trying to get rid of some, but I think this one is a keeper. Great addition to any children's collection.
Profile Image for Bethany.
334 reviews47 followers
December 20, 2014
I heard Alvina Ling speak about this book in 2009, the summer before it came out. You should have heard her say "SHHAAAARRRRRK! versus TRRRAAAIIIIIIN!"

It's a great picture book. It's different, with a clear statement. I loved the spread that is meant to be turned 90 degrees since the action happens vertically across both pages. Well done!
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,928 reviews90 followers
June 14, 2013
Clever and over-the-top silly, a celebration of play.
28 reviews
October 2, 2019
"Shark vs. Train," by Chris Barton is about two boys playing with a toy shark and a toy train. The shark and the train fight in different areas and complete different activities to see who will win. The shark is better at certain things such as swimming in the ocean, riding in a hot air balloon, and diving. The train is better at other things such as playing basketball, running a lemonade stand, and riding on train tracks. Towards the end of the book, the shark and the train are getting tired of competing and are doing activities that they are both bad at. Finally, the boys get called for lunch and the toys get put back in the toy box. The illustrations in this book are fun and colorful. They are silly because there are illustrations of a shark and a train completing various activities. I think this book would be good for students from preschool through third grade. This book could be used to teach students about similarities and differences, as well as characters. You could have students describe what is similar and different about the train and the shark. You could also have them describes the traits of each character.
317 reviews4 followers
June 16, 2022
It was fine. If your kid loves sharks or trains, they may love this book, but I just thought it was ok. It's just different scenarios for who would win- shark or train if... they're in the ocean or on railroad tracks or giving rides at a carnival. (That probably was one of my favorite illustrations. The shark is in a tank looking menacing and the price has been marked down to free with still no takers. The height sign shows: 'You must be THIS CRAZY to go on this ride.' And there's a line for the train rides going around on a roller coaster. My kids liked it. Perhaps I just didn't like the battle after battle. And some got pretty obscure with performing a piano recital or sword fighting on a tight rope. Illustrations are in pretty bright and bold colors. I'd say it's a combo of something (digital art or paints) and colored pencil.
31 reviews
November 14, 2017
"Shark vs Train" by Chris Barton is a comical book that follows a competitive shark and train and their crazy competitions. Both continue to challenge each other in burping, ping pong,, bowling more. Each scenario the reader becomes more amused by the antics of the two friends. Tom Lichtenheld uses watercolors and light colors to for the images. The cartoonish drawing would be enjoyed by elementary aged students. Students will also be captivated by the story line about what the shark and the train will do next. First through fifth graders would enjoy this story the most I believe. They will be able to use their imagination to envision what the text is saying. This book would be good for students just learning to read that want an easy story line to follow.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 548 reviews

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