Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
This was not what I had been expecting from Gaiman and Rex, but sometimes surprises can be a delight. Chu is a small panda who has a very big way of sneezing. His parents are always concerned about him being about to sneeze. So when they head to the library and encounter book dust, his mother asks if he’s going to sneeze. Chu starts to “aah-aaah-Aaaah” but then “No.” When his father takes him to a restaurant with pepper in the air, he asks too. Chu goes “aah-aaah-Aaaah” but then “No” once again. When they head to the circus everyone is too busy watching the show to hear Chu say that he thinks he’s going to sneeze and what a sneeze it is!
This is the first book that Gaiman has written for such a young audience. It will be toddlers and preschoolers who adore this book and love the humor that is intrinsic in the writing and its rhythms. The better you can fake the build-up to a sneeze, the funnier the little “no” at the end is. In other words, this is a great one to read aloud.
Rex adds so much with the tight details of the world he builds here. Chu is plush and fuzzy. Whenever he starts to sneeze, his aviator glasses fall down over his eyes, adding an additional comic effect. The detail of the scenes will have children lingering over them, identifying the various animals in the pictures. Personally, the mice using the library card catalog drawers for computer use was the perfect mix of modern and retro.
A rather surprising straight-forward book from Gaiman that is a strong read aloud and filled with laughs. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.