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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

“I Verse You”

Head-to-head competition in literature isn’t anything new, but the idea of pitting two characters/things against each other in the title of a book is a continuing trend in children’s literature (and perhaps literature in general).

Shark vs Train 300x295 I Verse You

While it’s far from the first book to bring out the “vs.”, I think the book that really helped put it into the zeitgeist was Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld’s popular Shark vs. Train, released in 2010. The growth of the “versus” title makes sense – it’s an intriguing set up. What are they fighting about? Who would win?

In recent years (and upcoming in 2014) the “versus” have continued:

9780062103031 31f42 300x300 I Verse You

9780062102997 d07e8 300x300 I Verse You

9781426309151 94709 200x300 I Verse You

1423137884 240x300 I Verse You

9780545298391 210x300 I Verse You

9781469203966 180x300 I Verse You

1423122011 235x300 I Verse You

9781561457090 266x300 I Verse You

9780760345313 e7e97 300x300 I Verse You

9780375858741 dc4f6 241x300 I Verse You

9780545055925 220x300 I Verse You

9780316238014 237x300 I Verse You

9780062015129 0 Cover 198x300 I Verse You

9780312674830 206x300 I Verse You

9781617751882 300x253 I Verse You

9780763658731 880c9 211x300 I Verse You

And possibly my favorite:

0486498093 3ec88 166x300 I Verse You

Want further proof of the rise of the “versus”? Check out this data from Google’s Ngram Viewer, which tracks word usage in books:

Screen Shot 2014 02 25 at 9.56.18 PM 500x256 I Verse You

share save 171 16 I Verse You
About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Brenda says:

    May I add Athlete vs. Mathlete by W. C. Mack and, on the YA end, Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach?

  2. Ed Spicer says:

    Count me as one not overly thrilled with this direction, despite recognizing a certain degree of inevitable popularity (and I do have some of these in my classroom and like several of them).

  3. Anne says:

    I NEED THE OBAMA/ROMNEY PAPER DOLLS. How do I miss these things?

  4. Diane says:

    How about George vs. George: The American Revolution as seen from both sides? or Fly Guy vs. the FlySwatter?

  5. Gabi says:

    Not to be a curmudgeon, but the way I understand it, your Ngram kind of contradicts your point. It says “versus” has been on the rise since about 1950, peaked in 2000, and has dropped off recently.

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