By Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Adam Rex
Chu's Day is Neil Gaiman's shortest book -- a children's picture book written for very young children. It's very cute, and the illustrations are quite nice. As far as entertainment value goes, it is pretty much laser-targeted on ages 3-6.
Chu is a little panda with a big sneeze.
When Chu sneezes, bad things happen.
Will Chu sneeze today?
Chu the panda goes to the library. He thinks he's going to sneeze... but then he doesn't. He goes to a restaurant. He thinks that he's going to sneeze... but then he doesn't. He goes to the circus. He knows that he's going to sneeze... and he does!
And that's the whole story. There is no literary content. The big hook is that Cho's name looks like ah choo. If that. Of course, the illustrations add a lot; Chu is very cute, the animals at the library and the circus are funny, and when he sneezes we get to see the circus tent blow away, along with the library and restaurant.
Given that this is a story for small children, this is a perfectly fine book. Short and sweet, funny, and with enough interesting pictures to keep viewers interested, while keeping the story simple enough to learn by rote after only a few readings. It is exactly what you would expect for a young child's bedtime story. Not exceptional in any way, but also not lacking.
On the other hand, the reason that most people will pick up this book is because it has Gaiman's name on the cover, and quite frankly, that's misleading. Nothing in his previous body of work is reflected in this book. While it was written by him, as a work it owes more to the illustrator, Adam Rex, although in my opinion this falls a bit short of his previous illustrations in Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Tree-Ring Circus, being closer to his less-inspired illustrations in the Lucy Rose series.
Needless to say, most of the press around this book has focused on Gaiman, and as I've mentioned, I think that this is unwarranted. In a sense this has to be a negative review, simply because the reason that most people will ever notice this book is because of Gaiman's name, and his name really has no bearing on this book. (He is scheduled to come out with another picture book in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps he will build a name for himself in the simple-and-cutesy niche of the children's picture book market. That day has not yet come). However, if you want to pick out a random book for your 4-year-old, this book is quite nice, and has a baby panda. So overall, I'll give it 3.5 out of 5 stars... as a bedtime story.