Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chu's Day: a history and a signing...

So Chu's Day came out two days ago. It's my first book for really really small kids. I hope it gets read to kids too young to read it for themselves, and that they enjoy it and demand it be read to them again. Adam Rex's illustrations are beyond cute, for they are witty and wonderful.

Chu's Day sprang into my head pretty much fully formed one day in Beijing in 2009. I grabbed a notebook and wrote the story.

When I got home, I picked up a notebook and a pen, and simply drew and wrote the story as it was in my head, because it seemed easier than writing long descriptions of what was going on on each page.  That was what I sent to my editor at Harper Children's.

I can't find the original handwritten one - here's a few pages taken from a version that Harper Children made to show how the layouts would work with type:

They really liked it. Now I had to choose an illustrator.

I really liked Adam Rex's work. I'd seen some of his actual prose books, which I'd enjoyed.  (I had completely forgotten that he had given me a Sandman painting back in the late 90s, which was one of the pieces of artwork that were auctioned off for the CBLDF at the Fiddler's Green Convention in 2004.) I browsed illustrator websites, but there was something about the way he drew animals, funny, honest, accessible, realistic and cartoony at the same time...

We asked Adam. He said yes. I was happy.

He took my doodles as a framework, and then added his own layers, jokes, bits and such...

So pretty soon my scratchy doodles, like the one above of the elephant blowing dust off the book, or the one of Chu and his father in the diner, became things of beauty and wonder like this:

Most important of all, obviously, Adam gave Chu aviator goggles.

It's been out for a couple of days. People on Twitter are reading it to their children, which makes me happy.

You can get it Amazon, Barnes and Noble, from Independent bookstores via Indiebound, or pre-order a signed copy from Books of Wonder at

Right now the reviews are coming in. They are mostly really nice. Even the one for the three-minute long Audio Book.

I got a press release from Harpers this morning, and I'll cut and paste a bit from it into here....


The rhythm of Neil Gaiman's humorous picture book about a sneezing panda, ‘Chu's Day’, replicates the tantalizing on-again-off-again feeling of a sneeze that is just . . . about . . . to explode . . . but doesn't. ...The explosion, when it finally comes, will delight children ages 3-6 with its comic magnitude.”
Wall Street Journal

“The hows and whens and whys provide the substance of this slight tale, which is enriched primarily by the sly humor in Adam Rex’s deeply hued oil paintings. … You can bet that when Chu finally does sneeze, it comes at an unexpected and inopportune moment — and shows Gaiman’s keen understanding of a 5-year-old’s comedic sensibility.”
New York Times

“A humorous story of a small panda with a giant sneeze! … Adam Rex's warm and colorful illustrations show in detail just why Chu's parents feared this little panda's sneeze.”
USA Today

cid:image002.gif@01CC4BA4.36F64250“Gaiman’s comic timing gets a boost from strategic book design and from Rex’s hyperreal paintings, which emphasize Chu’s round, fuzzy form and apparent harmlessness. Gaiman and Rex deliver a classic one-two-three punch, making hay from the notion that a cuddly baby panda is not to be trusted.”
   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Kids will find the idea of a monstrous sneeze funny, and it may prompt some attempts of their own. Rex’s richly detailed illustrations are brimming with fantastic touches. Share this one at toddler storytime for lots of giggles, or one-on-one for spotting details in the art.”
— Booklist


NEIL GAIMAN and ADAM REX will be doing a book-signing at BOOKS OF WONDER on Saturday, February 23rd at Noon!
*Neil and Adam will be pre-signing a quantity of limited edition CHU’S DAY posters which will be available to fans at the event and online for a donation to Books of Wonder*

And the other reason I am posting a bit from the press release is that Adam and I are doing a release event at Books of Wonder on Saturday February the 23rd. We'll sign all the copies of Chu's Day anyone wants, and other books as well. Books of Wonder is one of my favourite Children's bookshops in the world. They've been going through some rough times recently.

The last release event I did there, on the 7th of March 2009, had a certain amount of tragedy in it -- in the taxi on the way to the signing I learned my father had died unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack, and it was the 8 hour signing event that helped me keep it together and not fall apart. (Here's a Youtube video of me talking about and reading Blueberry Girl on that day, and not falling apart.)

It's at 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 on Saturday, the 23rd of February, at Noon.


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