Toy Chest Showdown: Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton
I'M GOING TO CHOO-CHOO YOU UP AND SPIT YOU OUT!
HA! I'M GOING TO FINISH YOU, MACKEREL BREATH!
WHO WILL WIN?
Two boys pick their champions from the jumble in the toy chest, and the two unlikely gladiators face off. Shark vs. Train? Sure. When two young guys sublimate their aggression through their very fertile imaginations, it's sure to be the virtual face-off of the century.
Shark has his strengths. At a trick-or-treat shootout, costumed in a polka-dotted and tasseled hat, he's got just the snaggle-toothed smile to cop all the candies. "The clown is very hungry,” he smirks sinisterly to the grownups passing out goodies, while Train's trick bag goes treatless. In a best-carnival-ride contest, Train takes the trophy when he appropriates the roller coaster rails for a thrilling ride. Train rocks at the game of Cabooses and Ladders, Trainial Pursuit, and Tracktionary and is the clear champ at roasting marshmallows (no contest when you have a head of steam up), but Shark captures the hot air balloon ascension match and takes the high-diving contest while Train's caboose is still stuck on the diving board. Then, in a questionable decision, Shark claims a strike for chomping all the bowling pins into splinters: "That counts as a strike, right?" he snarls at Train. “This is why you guys have a bad reputation,” is Train's steamy comeback.
Some of the matches are a draw. Train and Shark both stink at a not-getting-shushed contest in the library. And while duking it out at the video game of Extreme Zombie, it's soon Game Over with a score of 0 to 0.
TRAIN: "SURE WOULD HELP IF WE HAD THUMBS"
It's a toy story standoff by the time Mom finally calls a truce with a "Time for lunch!" The two little boys toss the toys into the box and take off, but the trash talk continues from beneath the tangle in the chest:
SHARK: "NEXT TIME YOU'RE HISTORY, SOOT SPEWER!"
TRAIN: "NEXT TIME YOU'RE SUNK, SQUID SLURPER!"
Imagination takes these tykes as far as they want to go in Chris Barton's hilarious new Shark vs. Train (Little Brown, 2010), choicely illustrated with cartoonish elan by Tom Lichtenheld. For slightly older kids than John Scieszka's Trucktown series or Kate McMullan's I Stink! or I'm Bad!, this work of pure guy genius pairs up well with other boy toy story tag team sagas such as Jon Scieszka's and David Shannon's team-up on Robot Zot! for a rock 'em sock 'em kid-pleasing dynamic duo!
Labels: Toy Stories (Grades K-4)