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Prolific Neil Gaiman spins a fun new yarn for children

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Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins)

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Neil Gaiman is a novelist, comic book writer, and screenwriter. As much as he excels in these fields, he is at his best writing children's books. Already having written the brilliant Coraline and immensely successful The Graveyard Book, it's clear that Gaiman's imagination is a vast landscape with appeal for all ages. He has, once again, turned his attention to even younger readers with his tales of a bear named Chu.

In the first book, Chu's Day (now available as a board book), Chu, a young panda, is taken to dinner and even the circus by his parents. All the while, there is the constant threat of a sneeze for the poor little panda. No big deal except for his extraordinary skill. His sneeze can send out shock waves for miles, just strong enough to discombobulate people and places. He finally does so under the big top as animals, furniture, and even vehicles are sent careening about.

Chu's First Day of School follows the bear as he worries about the other kids not liking him. The kids being a little elephant, snake, fox, and snail among others, they share with their classmates what they like to do and special abilities. Chu tries his best to stay quiet, still scared he won't be accepted, until the teacher prompts him to participate. Unable to control himself with all of the chalk dust in the air, he summons his nose whirlwind, leaving the classroom in disarray. Once the shock passes, the other kids show their approval with huge grins.

The first book is a just a bit of fun while the second deals with the all-too common issue of a child trying to make friends. Gaiman has never been unlucky in the art department as Adam Rex (a kids' book vet in his own right) illustrates with such impressive depth texture that kids and adults alike may not want to turn the pages, barely resisting the urge to feel the lifelike mixed media animals.

Both the board book of Chu's Day and the storybook of Chu's First Day of School will be available on Jun 24.

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