Today’s Read Aloud Thursday brings you two brand new picture books. Enjoy!
Chu’s Day by Newbery Medalist Neil Gaiman is one of those depends on one of my favorite literary techniques–word play–to tell a fun little story. It’s the story of a cute little panda bear named Chu who has a mighty powerful sneeze–so powerful, in fact, that the whole story revolves around it. The book opens like this:
When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.
We spend the next eighteen pages just waiting to find out what those bad things are. The problem is, Chu feels a sneeze coming on, but it takes a while for it to materialize. Meanwhile, he and his parents visit the library, the diner, and finally, the circus, before this dramatic tension is resolved. I felt a little let down by the ending, really, because all that happens is that his sneeze is so powerful that it blows down the circus tent and back through both the diner and the library, leaving a mess of animals, books, and dining patrons in its wake. The real joy of the story is the simple exchange between Chu and his parents:
“Are you going to sneeze?” asked his father.
No, said Chu.
Read that without chuckling if you can.
Adam Rex‘s illustrations are colorful and visually simple but detailed. I particularly love The Moby Diner where Chu and his dad dine; a whale, quite appropriately, is the short-order cook. This is just a fun story, and the illustrations definitely add to the fun. My only quibble with it is that it plays loose-and-free with quotation marks, but that’s not too much of a problem in a read aloud. I give this one a Highly Recommended and won’t be surprised if it gets some press come Cybils time in the fall. (Harper, 2013)
While Chu’s Day, as simple as it is, might depend on a smidgen of intellectual sophistication to be understood, Eve Bunting‘s new book, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? is perfect for the preschool crowd. It’s the story of a little duck who quite predictably can’t find his blue socks. He goes around asking all his animal friends if they’ve seen the socks. In the end, the socks end up being on his feet inside his shoes. While I thought this ending was a little, um, silly, it’s perfect for the preschool crowd. I mean, how often have you looked for something for the under five crowd in your house, only to find it hidden in plain sight? 🙂 What makes this book a real winner is not the complexity of the story but the way it’s told: in Dr. Seussian verse. It is a pure joy to read and calls to mind the likes of Green Eggs and Ham or Fox in Socks. Here’s a snippet:
I’m trying not to be depressed.
Without my socks I feel undressed.
I’ll ask the peacocks–they might know.
They’re always strutting to and fro.
Illustrator Sergio Ruzzier does a fine job of keeping the fact hidden that poor duck is actually wearing the socks he’s looking for until later in the story. (I didn’t notice myself until the text revealed it.) This is a fun one from prolific author Eve Bunting that’s perfect for preschoolers. (Houghton Mifflin, 2013)
What’s on your read-aloud shelf this week?