Perfect Picture Book Friday – Shark Vs. Train And A Few Extras! (Including A New Contest!)

WOW do I have lots to share with you today!  I’m going to try very hard to be concise… we’ll see how I do 🙂  Let’s start with the Perfect Picture Book! (But definitely read to the bottom because there’s good stuff down there!!!)

As I mentioned briefly in Wednesday’s post, I’m very interested in adding another category to the Perfect Picture Book List – Best Books For Boys – because of the amount of discussion I’ve been involved with recently over getting boys engaged in reading.  So I bumped another book so I could post this one today:)

Shark Vs. Train
Written By: Chris Barton
Illustrated By: Tom Lichtenheld
Little Brown Books For Young Readers, April 2010, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8
Topics/Themes: Humor, Imagination, Play
Opening: “Who will win?  Well, that depends on if they’re… in the ocean… or on railroad tracks.”
Brief Synopsis: (from SLJ starred review) “When a boy with a toy shark faces a train-wielding companion, it sets off a series of imaginative and very funny contests between fish and machine.  The result of each battle depends on the setting.”

Links To Resources:  Downloadable Shark Vs. Train poster and activity sheets, Shark Vs. Train Activity Guide.  Challenge kids to pull out their own two toys for a competition and see who they think will win at what.

Why I Like This Book:  It’s fun!  The reader sees two boys pulling toys from a toy chest before there are even any words.  One gets a shark, the other, a train.  This leads to the imaginary world of who will win? in a variety of ridiculous situations where sometimes the shark has the upper hand (as in high diving), sometimes the train is favored (as in the burping contest) and sometimes neither one is cut out for the job (as in their scoreless video game where they say, “It sure would help if we had thumbs!”)  The pictures are hilarious, as are the scenarios in which the shark and train compete.  I think any child would enjoy this book, and it may be one that is especially appealing to boys, even those who aren’t big on reading, because the text is very short but the imagination (and potential for play) can run on long after the story is over!

I hope you all enjoy Shark Vs. Train as much as I do!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

OK.  Now onto a couple other important things…

Yesterday, Phyllis and I went on a school visit for Groundhog Day.  (If I get a picture I’ll insert it, but as of this writing I don’t have any yet 😦 )  Anyway, one of the kids asked Phyllis, “What is your middle name?”


I had never thought about it!

Shocking, I know.

But of course Phyllis must have a middle name.

So I had some ideas…  and so did they…  and so I now present you with Phyllis’ full name.  Are you ready?

Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill!

How’s that for fancy?

Phyllis and I LOVE it!!!

We are going to say it as many times every day as we can possibly think up excuses for.  As in, “Would you be so kind as to pass the maple syrup, Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill?”

In other news, we have a winner for the December/January Pitch Pick!  It was a tough choice, as always, and as usual I wish everyone could win, but since it can only be one, the voters have spoken.  This month’s winner, whose pitch will be sent to editor Erin Molta for review and critique, is


Congratulations, Margaret!  Your pitch is winging it’s way through cyberspace as we speak.  Actually, I hope it’s already there because I sent it last night right after I wrote this 🙂  To everyone else, thank you all so much for submitting your pitches.  I know how hard it is to put your work out for others to see and critique, so you’re very brave.  And we all learn so much from every pitch, so thank you all!

And now, last but not least – definitely not least! – it’s contest time again!!!

Valentines Day Contest
google images

Having skipped January, I really couldn’t pass up February because, as we all know, it has way better holidays than March for contest fodder 🙂  SO. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a children’s story, poetry or prose, 150 words maximum, about unlikely Valentines.

You must post it on your blog, (or in the comment section of this blog if you don’t have a blog), between Saturday February 11 and Monday February 13, and add your entry-specific link to the link list that I will put up on Saturday February 11.  (There will be no new post on Monday February 13 so that the contest post and link list can stay up.)  Entries must be posted by 5 PM EST Monday February 13.  Three finalists (which, judging by my track record probably means anywhere between 3 and 6 :)) will be chosen and posted in a special Valentines Day post on Tuesday February 14 for you all to vote on for a winner.  The winner will receive their choice of either a copy of Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation To Publication, or  a picture book manuscript critique from me.  For all you 12X12ers out there, look on this as a chance to get your February story written along with potential for a prize!!!

OK.  That’s it.  I’m done.  How’d I do on brevity? 🙂

Perfect Picture Book bloggers, please remember to add your links below!  Have a great weekend, everyone, and start dreaming up those unlikely Valentine stories – only 150 words – you can do it! 🙂

(P.S.  I apologize in advance for the fact that I will be late visiting everyone’s blogs today as I have 9 hours of driving to do starting at 7 AM followed by my husband’s birthday party when I get home… but I’ll get there eventually :))

75 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Shark Vs. Train And A Few Extras! (Including A New Contest!)

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Hi Jackie! I'm assuming you're a different Jackie from Jackie @ The Castle Library? It's hard to keep track sometimes 🙂 Anyway, if you want to join PPBF we'd love to have you! All you have to do is read about it on the Perfect Picture Book tab on the blog – you have to scroll to the bottom (which is a long way down at this point!) – so you know the format, and then just post your picture book on Friday (along with resources – that's the most important part!) and link your post to the list. Very easy 🙂 And I hope you will enter the contest! That would make 3 🙂

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Phyllis is very glad you like her name and don't blame her for the snow – where are you that you're getting any? We're having a green winter so far! I hope you'll think up a contest entry! And I am totally going to call Eric Mr. Oh Susanna from now on! Enjoy your picture book morning 🙂

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I guess you have a legitimate excuse 🙂

    Loni Edwards wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I would love to, however, I have a super busy 2 weeks planned with midterms. I will try though! 🙂

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  4. Jkpick says:

    I also like Phyllis' new middle name and congrats to Margaret! I look forward to reading all of the wonderful entries in the Valentines Day Contest! Julie

  5. Claudine G says:

    Hi Susanna, I'm really enjoying your blog! I like the idea of Sharks VS Trains – it sounds hilarious. And Phyllis' middle name is awesome. 🙂

    I have Ann Whitford Paul's book and I think it is a tremendous treasure! Good luck to whoever wins it!

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Hi Claudine! Thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. Shark Vs. Train is a great book – really fun – definitely worth a trip to the library 🙂 And I love Ann's book too, so I figured it would make a good prize 🙂

  7. theresamilstein says:

    Congratulations, Margaret!

    What a fancy full name for Phyllis. She'll need to order specially designed business cards!

    That picture book sounds awfully cute. Thanks for telling us about it.

  8. Kellyamtowerkorenek says:

    Great choice, Susanna! I was lucky enough to meet Chris Barton last year at a library event in Fort Worth-very nice man! My students can't get enough of this book!

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