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. Robyn Campbell says:

    First of all, may I say what a lovely, lovely name for Phyllis!
    Secondly, Shark vs Train sounds right up my alley. I love fun! I'm already pondering who would win, my Build a Bear Teddy vs my Princess Barbie doll. Hmmm. This book sounds awesome, Susanna. I am doing a Amazon order. Adding this to it. 🙂

    Thirdly, congrads Margaret! Woohoo. 🙂

  2. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Thank you Susannah…looks like a great fun contest!
    Congratulations, Margaret! That is awesome. I am going to have to follow your Pitch posts, Susannah. 🙂
    I'm giving you the link to my PPBF post:
    I tried to link it…but it doesn't look like it took it, so I am giving it to you to work your magic. 🙂 Thank you so much!
    And I will try to scout out some “boy” books…have some in mind. 🙂


  3. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Oh, forgot to tell you that I LOVE the name..or should I say names. 🙂

    And your book selection rocks…kids REALLY love this story!

  4. Margaret Greanias says:

    Thanks everyone for the congratulations. I'm SO excited! Thanks also to Susanna for the opportunity to have my pitch critiqued — it was such a great experience.

    Susanna, I love Phyllis' middle name. And, I also love your book selection — I'm going to have to get that one for my little guy.

    I added a Perfect Picture Book Friday post to my blog. It is also a book that is great for boys. Here's the link:

    Happy Birthday to your husband!

  5. Joanna Marple says:

    Firstly, congratulations to Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill! I saw her name (well without the beautiful extras) popping up all over the internet yesterday!

    Well done Margaret!

    Shark v Train sounds hilarious and definitely a boy winner. I think boys will enjoy mine today, too.

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you, Robyn! (Although you missed your chance to say what a lovely name for Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hot Wheels Groundhog Hill!) I think you will love Shark Vs. Train – it's very funny!

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks, Joanna! Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hot Wheels Groundhog Hill thanks you too! 🙂 I can't wait to read your selection, although since I have to leave in 20 minutes, it will most likely be later or tomorrow… 😦

  8. Renee LaTulippe says:

    Aw, I'm glad Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hot Wheels Groundhog Hill has completed her identity.

    Congratulations to Margaret!

    I keep seeing this book, but the cover didn't appeal to me, so I kept passing it over. Now that you've explained its innards, I KNOW my boys would love this!

  9. Jennifer Rumberger says:

    I love your book for today. I just asked my son if he would like to read it and of course he said yes! What a great choice!

  10. This Kid Reviews Bks says:

    “Shark vs. Train” seems like a book I'd really like! I sometimes do stuff like that ith my toys! I'm in for the contest! 🙂 Congratulations to Margaret!!!! The book I reviewed this week (AND Ms. Darshana reviewed 🙂 ) is a good book for boys (and girls but I think boys would really like it).

  11. Catherine Johnson says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. Hill! 9 hours of driving -yikes!

    Congrats to Margaret and great Valentine's contest Susannah. Hope Phyllis enjoyed Groundhog day!

    I can't link until after dog walk, look forward to reading all the ppbs. Have a great day 🙂

  12. patientdreamer says:

    Oh Gosh, my link hasn't shown up….hope you are able to fix it Susanna. Boy! you are one busy lady… wear me out reading this post! All that driving and a party at the end *whew*.
    Loved the book you have chosen for your review sounds hilarous. Like Joanna I had seen Phyllis's name popping up here and there, and it had me starring at the screen trying to take it all in…lol, it's an eye popper …. love it! Have a good weekend.

  13. Beth Stilborn says:

    First — congratulations, Margaret! Next, wonderful name, Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill! (I'm still learning to spell Punxsutawney.)

    Shark vs Train sounds great for boys! I, too, will be looking for more boy books as time goes on.

  14. Heather Newman says:

    I am terribly jealous of Phyllis' middle names. They are fabulous! Shark VS Train is a great pick for open ended conversations about what would happen if… and comparisons. Having 3 boys, I have quite a few ideas and opinions on boys and reading. Maybe I'll tackle it in a blog post. Thanks for posting this one!

  15. Tracy Bermeo says:

    Susanna, I love your book for today! I can't begin to tell you how many conversations we have in my house about sharks and trains, but not always together!
    Love the February contest and as a 12x12er, I'm loving the multipurpose aspect! Have a great day traveling and Happy birthday to your husband!

  16. Julie Hedlund says:

    Wow, where to start in the comments for today??

    First of all, LOVE Phyllis' new middle name. It so suits her and I'm glad she loves it too.

    Second, as far as picking good “boy” books, you couldn't have done better that Shark vs Train. My son LOVES that book. Mostly he's a nonfiction guy, but that's one piece of fiction that “gets him.”

    Third, great idea for a contest! Love the theme.

    Last, but not least, congratulations Margaret!!

  17. Clarike Bowman-Jahn says:

    OH! I have a chance to say the name of Punxsutawney Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill ! It felt great. Just saying it makes me smile. 🙂

    Congrats Margaret for winning the pitch.

    Be careful driving Susanna and don't let all your singing take you into complacent land. Although that may make it go faster.

    Love the new contest. Count me in. Sounds like fun.
    Take care

  18. Penny Klostermann says:

    Phyllis must have the longest name in groundhog history! How in the world will she be able to bubble it in on achievement tests at Groundhog High? Did you even think about that??? LOL

    Happy birthday to your husband.

    Shark Vs. Train is a great book. Extremely creative.

    A contest! I am thinking. I hope to come up with an entry. My creative juices seem to be dammed up lately….like some bad beaver blocked my brain with a bunch of branches! B-b-b-b-bad!

  19. Jackie says:

    glad to have found this blog! how do I get in on the perfect picture book friday fun? I love the contest idea too, and hope to take part!

  20. Cathy Mealey says:

    Congrats Margaret!

    What I really love about Shark vs Train is that it has an author AND an illustrator, not an author/illustrator. Would loved to have read the illustration notes (if any) on that ms!

    I'm trying to visit all 25 PPBF posts but there is not-enough-time-in-one-day! Good luck with that SLH!

    Yay for a new contest. I like the 150 word max!

  21. Natalie says:

    Phyllis Princess Snowy Sunshine Macaroni Hotwheels Groundhog Hill!!!

    Love, Love, Love!

    As a Mom of three boys, I love the “books for boys,” spin on PPBF. My boys did enjoy Shark vs. Train! 🙂 Does it get any more boy than that?

    A new contest?? I'm so tempted! Sounds super-fun–we'll see if I can get it done.

    Happy Friday!!

  22. Leigh Covington says:

    Congrats to Maragret, and I LOVE Phyllis' new name! It is more than fabulous. Now I need to see if I can brainstorm something up for the contest. Lots going on. I love it. And you were great at being concise. 🙂

  23. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    Like Leigh, I love LOVE Phyllis' name. I don't blame Phyllis for all the snow flying around today, but I do blame that groundhog “who shall not be named.” I guess it's OK to begin winter on Feb. 2. We haven't really had one. Putting a thinking cap on for the contest. Congratulations Margaret. Happy Birthday to Mr. Oh Susanna. And, I'm adding all types of books from the PPBF list. As the list grows, I'm finding myself reading more on Saturday mornings. And, that's OK, because a Perfect Picture Book is great any day of the week. Safe travels and celebrations.

  24. tiltonph says:

    Love you book selection, as I love anything Tom Lichtenheld illusrates. I have had this on my list to check out. It sounds like a good book for boys.

    Wishing your husband a happy birthday. Have a great weekend. You certainly were full of news today.

  25. Darshana says:

    I love this book and so do my girls. I love Tom's illustrations. Have you read Cloudette, Tom was the author/illustrator for that one.

    Margaret – Congratulations !!! So happy for you.

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I wasn't sure I'd like it, Renee, but I kept seeing it all over the place with people raving about it, so I borrowed it from the library back in October or November. It's very well done. It has a cartoon-y style that I think appalls to boys, and the pictures are so much fun!

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes – I'll pass them along 🙂 And yes – it ended up being closer to 10 – up to VT to pick up my daughter for her mid-winter break, back home, then out to dinner for Eric's birthday. When i got back there were 151 emails in my inbox! I hope you'll enter the contest!!! And yes, Phyllis had a lovely G-hog Day, thank you very much 🙂

  28. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I know! I am jealous of Phyllis' awesome name too. Perhaps I need to add a few to my own… 🙂 And if you have 3 boys you must know ALL the great books for boys, so I will look forward to anything you have to contribute in that department!

  29. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks, Julie! I hope you'll enter the contest… not that you aren't busy enough already 🙂 I hesitate to label books “boy” books – it seems like we're just perpetuating gender stereotypes in a way – but there's no doubt that a lot of people talk about how hard it is to engage them in reading, so I'm hoping I'll come up with some great titles that aren't dinosaurs, vehicles, or monsters! 🙂

  30. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Actually, I believe the author and illustrator worked together quite extensively for this one, going through a whole lot of scenarios they ended up discarding. It was quite a collaboration. And I know what you mean – there are 28 up now, not counting mine, and I've only been to about 4 that were up before I left yesterday. One at a time… one at a time…! 🙂

  31. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Phyllis is going to have trouble with more than enough space for her name – she's not really too handy with a pencil, for starters 🙂 Thanks for the b-day wishes – I will pass them along! And you of all people I KNOW can come up with a contest entry. Go fold some laundry or something… a story will come to you 🙂

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