Parting the Waters: Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
IT WAS A HOT DAY AND CHU AND HIS FAMILY WENT TO THE BEACH.
BUT WHEN CHU SNEEZES... BIG THINGS HAPPEN.
But, hey! No problem at the beach, right? No daisy pollen, no peppery chimichangas, no chalk dust or circus sawdust to give Chu a snoot full and set off the sneezes! Mom stretches out in the sun for a quiet beach read, and Dad wades in the almost waveless shallows. An octopus vendor hands Chu an ice cream cone. What could possibly disturb this idyllic scene?
CHU TOOK OFF HIS SUNGLASSES.
THE DAY WAS SUNNY AND BRIGHT.
CHU'S NOSE TICKLED. THE TICKLE GOT BIGGER AND BIGGER.
Ahh! AHHH! AHHHH! CHOOOOOOOOO!
Chu's sneeze creates a tsunami! The waters flow backward and then move back toward the beach, freezing into a giant wave hovering over the sand. The bedazzled beachcombers are agog. It's like looking through the aquarium glass at Sea World. The amazed fish wave at Chu and he waves back. A merpanda girl gives him a big smile, and a giant whale wails that he's stranded.
"I CAN'T GO HOME!"
The ocean is broken! There's only one thing to do. Chu HAS to sneeze again. Fast!
A seagull plucks a tail feather to tickle his nose.
AH... AHH... AHHH... Nope.
The vendor hands him a fizzy drink to fizzle his nose. Ah... Ahh...Ahhh. No way, Nose-ay.
Is the ocean really split forever?
Then a very little snail comes up with a quick idea.
"Sometimes I sneeze when I see the sun."
Chu removes his sunglasses again. Bingo!
The sea flows back together, the sea animals rejoice at their reunion, and although there is some collateral damage to the shore (ice cream cones all around), the waters go back to where they are supposed to be as the little merpanda swims over to Chu to confess that sometimes she sneezes big time, too.
It's just a day at the beach in Neil Gaiman's latest Aw, Chu! fest, Chu's Day at the Beach (Harper-Collins, 2015). Artist Adam Rex adds his usual charmingly detailed illustrations, with a terminally cute Chu in his 1890s swimsuit and giraffe floatie, as totally befuddled as always by his superpower sneezes. Says School Library Journal, "Rex's menagerie of anthropomorphized animals, including merpandas, drawn in hyper-realistic human settings creates a humorous alternate reality that perfectly complements the plot. VERDICT A fun addition to most picture book collections."
A splashy read-aloud for the summer set, especially when paired with Chu's other sneezy-breezy adventures. (see reviews here.)