A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Susan Richards Shreve (Trout and Me), and Mary Quattlebaum (Jackson Jones series).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), whose book Baby and Child Care was first published in 1946. On a related note, itâ€™s Baby Day! Read The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee, Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Sam Williams, and Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee.
- In 1885, Good Housekeeping magazine first goes on sale. Read Chores Chores Chores! By Salina Yoon and Why Do I Have To Make My Bed? by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre.
May has been designated Get Caught Reading Month, a campaign launched in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers. The month has been set aside to remind people how much fun it is to read; posters for the event show favorite children’s book characters or celebrities celebrating books and reading.
I’m going to feature two book that you might want to “get caught reading.” The choice for today a relatively new title; the book for tomorrow, one of the most beloved books of the 1990s. Although neither has been in print long enough to be considered a classicâ€”both have won the admiration of adult critics and the endorsement of children.
One of the most creative picture books of 2010, Chris Bartonâ€™s Shark vs. Train explores the imaginative life of children. Creator of a fascinating biography of the Switzers, The Day-Glow Brothers, Chris Barton shows just how inventive he can be in Shark vs. Train. The ever-creative Tom Lichtenheld adds the other half of the equation, art that enhances the humor of the story and makes it even more appealing.
Our two boy protagonists meet, even before the story begins, over the toy box. As they rummage through it, one picks out a plastic shark and the other a train. And then the battle begins. As it says on the title page â€śWho will win?â€ť Immediately the toys begin to trade insults, often including bad puns: â€śIâ€™m going to Fin-ish you, mackerel-breath,â€ť Train warns. Then these two antagonistic toys compete in a variety of settings where one obviously dominates. Trainâ€™s furnace doesnâ€™t work in the ocean; Shark has trouble on a seesaw. Shark can eat more pies, but Train can belch louder. Essentially, the two toys behave like rowdy young boys who try to one-up each other. If they go trick-or-treating, Shark has an advantage; at the carnival Trainâ€™s lines go around the page. Neither, it turns out, can play the piano or video games because they lack thumbs. When the boys get called for lunch, they throw the toys back in the box and run outâ€”although Shark and Train continue to hurl insults at each other.
Perfect for two- through eight-year-olds, the book can be acted out with puppets. It naturally can be used for writing exercises: What other contests would be appropriate for Shark and Train? It shows a profound understanding of childhood imaginative play and creates a lot of laughs when read aloud. Funny, original, exciting, Shark vs. Train demonstrates that the picture book format still has endless possibilities; creative people can find new and exciting ways to use it all the time.
Originally posted May 2, 2011. Updated for .