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'Chu's First Day of School' by Neil Gaiman: Perfect read aloud for school

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Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman

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"Chu's First Day of School" combines Neil Gaiman's text and Adam Rex's lovely illustrations to produce a book that welcomes nervous children to the first day of school. This book will help calm the nerves of the most anxious child and make them laugh in the process.

Chu is a small panda with a powerful sneeze. This book is a sequel to "Chu's Day," which Gaiman wrote while in China. Rex beautifully brings in subtle details which evoke China -- Chu's mother carrying a vase with bamboo and a school with lots of red (a favorite color in China) trim.

Chu is nervous about starting school and worries that the other children (a rhino, a giraffe, a snake, a robin) won't like him. While they confidently share their names and something they do well, Chu sits quietly. The teacher, a bear "with a friendly face," writes all the names on the chalkboard. Finally, Chu is the last child left.

There is a lot of chalk dust in the air, and after he says his name, instead of telling them what he does best, he shows them. The resulting chaos is an illustration that will make children laugh. The details are important, and that page and the next display subtle differences. The children will also enjoy figuring out exactly what those differences are. (Of course, the teacher or parent might have to explain what a chalkboard is -- most schools now have whiteboards.)

In the end, Chu enjoys his day. As will most children, nervous ones and calm ones alike.

A great book for parents, teachers, and kids.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, for review purposes.

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