Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Adam Rex
My rating: 3.5 of 5
Chu is a little panda with a big problem: every time he sneezes, disaster ensues. As he’s out around town with his parents, they’re always worried that something’s going to tickle his nose and make him sneeze. They’re really very careful. But one evening while the whole family is at the circus, Chu’s mom and dad get so wrapped up in watching the show that they forget about Chu’s sneezing . . . and you can guess what happens from there!
I usually absolutely love Neil Gaiman’s books, so I’m really sad to say that I was a bit disappointed in this one, mostly because (sorry, spoilers) essentially the entire plot line is summed up above. It’s really simple, and kind of silly. Reading it for the first time as an adult–having come to expect insight and wonder from Gaiman’s books–I found the story to be a letdown. Having said that, I think that for younger kids, especially in the 3-4 age range, this story would probably be fabulous. It’s got a great buildup, and the denouement is really impressive. Plus, it’s funny–in a way that kids are likely to find a lot funnier than I do. If nothing else, I think kids would love it for the illustrations, which really are the best part of the book. There are big, bright two-page spreads of anthropomorphized animals of all sorts doing all sorts of normal people things. The settings are rich with design and color, and the creatures themselves full of character. You could probably spend a lot more time poring over the pictures than you could reading the actual text. Overall, in spite of not being what I expected or hoped, I do think Chu’s Day is a fun, silly book for younger children, and one with some really awesome art, which is why I still gave it a 3.5 (which is actually still pretty good, if you check out my rating scale). So yeah, if you’ve got younger readers, this would be a fun read-together story; I just wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a grown-up read-alone story.