New York Times bestselling author, Neil Gaiman, has added another hit book to his extensive repertoire. Although Gaiman’s literary expertise captivates readers of all ages, his newest book Chu’s Day will especially delight the young audience. The story follows a small panda named Chu who has an especially big sneeze. Chu wakes up in the morning and goes to the library with his mother, trying to avoid a sneeze despite the book dust. Later, he adventures to the diner with his father and again narrowly avoids a catastrophic scene. Finally, the family goes to the circus together and amidst the excitement and fun, Chu’s sneezing is temporarily forgotten. Everyone remembers the small panda and his monstrous sneezes very rapidly when he explodes and sends the entire circus flying!
Young children will love the silly storyline and the entertaining illustrations. Adam Rex creates a world through his illustrations that children of all ages will want to be a part of. The innocent expression that Chu has before he sneezes and the silly faces he makes while trying to hold in each sneeze had me laughing out loud! The illustrations contain many subtle humors, like the obvious exasperation of all the other animals at the circus, indicating that Chu’s sneezes are a regular occurrence. Although these nuances might be lost on small children, they will find their own humor in the sneezing noises and chaotic aftermath. I anticipate many fake sneezes from children of all ages to ensue in the days after reading this story for the first time… Parents, prepare yourselves!
This story would be wonderful to use with beginning readers, as the storyline is simple, yet engaging, and the words are carefully chosen, but attainable. Children who are not yet reading fluently would also be captivated by the variety of animals in the illustrations and could be engaged by naming them and predicting what will happen next in the story. After Chu sneezes, there are a few pages of only pictures that show the ensuing chaos. Young readers could be asked to describe the action in the story, keeping their attention and developing their elaborative skills. This story is just long enough to be substantive, but short enough to be used in a variety of settings and with younger children. I can see this book becoming a household staple, as parents and children will both be delighted with both the story and its illustrations.
Reviewed by: Sally Nichols