“When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.” So begins the highly anticipated picture book Chu’s Day written by internationally acclaimed, award winning author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by talented author/artist Adam Rex (who happens to live in my hometown of Tucson, AZ).
Gaiman’s text offers a charmingly simple story about a small panda with a BIG sneeze that young readers can easily understand and relate to, but Adam Rex truly steals the show with his vivid depiction of the loveable, wide-eyed panda in aviator glasses and a green-striped shirt. Chu is ridiculously adorable – you will not be able to contain your “aaahhhs” while reading through it the first time and I guarantee it will be a read aloud hit with kindergarteners, 1st and even 2nd graders. In fact, I plan to share it with 2nd, 3rd and 5th graders this week at my daughter’s school for Love of Reading.
Rex’s artwork in Chu’s Day is simply gorgeous – colorful, bold and filled with a distinctive style of anthropomorphic humor that will delight readers of all ages. As talented as he is, Rex has maintained a humble perspective on his success and an endearing tendency towards humorous self-deprecation. When asked about Chu’s Day, Rex replied, “This book about a sneezing panda is close to my heart, as I suffer from seasonal rhinitis and am also growing increasingly panda-shaped as I age.”
My absolute favorite illustration in the book is of the library, which Chu visits with his mother in the morning. The incredible level of detail and activity in Rex’s work lends itself to many repeated conversations with the child on your lap about what we see happening on the page. For me that is the beauty of an excellent picture book. And I just love the way the library is presented in this book – as a place filled with warmth and light and community. Really, as a FUN place to be.
This darling book is seriously laugh-out-loud funny and young children will delight in seeing such a sweet baby panda wreak such immense havoc. Yet for all its silliness, the story is still bedtime appropriate and ends on a peaceful note with Chu getting tucked into bed at the end of a very busy day.
This month, Rex will also be adding to an impressive list of books where he is both author and illustrator (including the New York Times bestselling picture book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (2006), the middle-grade novel The True Meaning of Smekday (2007), the teen novel Fat Vampire (2010), and Cold Cereal (2012)) with the release of Unlucky Charms, the second book in his Cold Cereal Saga.
Tamara McKinney is the director of Reading Seed Children’s Literacy Program in Tucson, Arizona which annually provides over 3,000 emerging and struggling readers with the one-on-one mentorship and support they need to succeed. As an unabashed bookworm and lifelong nerdy book club member, she is on a mission to ensure that every child in her community has access to free books. She is also the marketing co-chair for the Tucson Festival of Books, the nation’s 4th largest book festival and an incredible celebration of books and authors. When she isn’t working or reading, you can find Tamara making time with her husband, their two amazing daughters and their seriously goofy puppies.
You can learn more about Reading Seed and its parent organization Literacy Connects at www.LiteracyConnects.org. You can also follow Tamara on Twitter @ReadingSeed and @LitConnectsAZ.