June 29, 2015
Chu’s Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
Chu’s Day at the Beach
written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Adam Rex
When I saw this picture book at the library, I had to stop and rub my eyes. An adorable panda bear on a book by Neal (The Sandman) Gaiman? Yep, that’s the one. What can I say, Gaiman is an amazingly diverse writer.
Chu is a small panda with a very big sneeze. In fact, it is so big that whenever he sneezes big things happen.
When he and his family go to the beach, you know something is going to happen. First Chu gets a vanilla ice cream cone. Dad is wading in the water and Mom is in the shade of her umbrella enjoying a good book.
That’s when it happens. Chu sneezes.
Fortunately, he doesn’t sneeze all over the other animals on the beach but that means he sneezes out across the ocean. His sneeze is so big, that it plows a furrow through the water, splitting the ocean in two. Chu walks between the walls of water seeing many new things including a family of merpandas.
It isn’t until he sees an enormous whale that Chu realizes what he has done. The ocean is split and the whale can’t get home. Chu has to find a way to make things right.
This is Neil Gaiman so the reader has to accept that this is fantasy. You might have guessed that by the fact that the panda on the cover is wearing an old fashioned bathing suit. In reality, we know that pandas prefer board shorts. From Chu’s name (think of it preceded by a sneeze, ah-ah-ah Chu) to the merpandas and the quirky problem, Gaiman’s off beat sense of humor is evident throughout.
Adam Rex’s oil and mixed media illustrations combine to create expressive characters as well as a bright, colorful backdrop for a story about a colorul young panda who will appeal to preschool and early-grade school readers.
I read the print copy but the cover image above right is from the audio. I’m going to look for that next just because I think it would be fun to hear Gaiman read the story.