Neil Gaiman for the Younger Set
“I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries,” writes author Neil Gaiman. Well known to fans of fantasy, horror, and science fiction, Gaiman is the award winning author of The Graveyard Book, Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls and many other works. This month he will be visiting Nashville! Born in the United Kingdom (where he spent hours in the local library), Gaiman now lives in Minneapolis, MN. In addition to his well-known books and graphic novels for adults, Gaiman has also written several books for younger readers, including titles perfect for sharing with preschoolers (really!).
Chu’s Day is a sweet and perfect book to share with a young child. Chu is a little panda with a big problem: his big sneezes make bad things happen. Will Chu be able to hold his sneeze in? What happens if can’t? The simple text is ideal for the shorter attention spans of young pre-readers. The illustrations often focus on Chu in a white background, but make use of whimsical detail in the larger scenes (how many different animals can you spot?). I particularly love the library scenes (of course).
Illustrated by one of Gaiman’s frequent collaborators, David McKean, Crazy Hair is a wild rhyming romp through a man’s truly crazy hair. What makes his hair so crazy? Oh, so many things! Butterflies, cockatoos, gorillas, tigers, dancers, and carousels are all contained in the hair on one man’s head. But watch what happens when a well-meaning girl tries to run a comb through the crazy hair! According to Gaiman, the inspiration for this book came from his “odd” hair, which does whatever it wants, particularly in high humidity.
But what if you want to read a book that is perhaps more representative of Gaiman’s interest in the spooky and macabre, yet still accessible to preschoolers? In that case, dear Reader, The Dangerous Alphabet is the book for you. An alphabet book unlike any other, the text is in fact a long poem make up 26 rhyming couplets. It is the story of “two brave children, their diminutive but no less courageous gazelle, and a large number of extremely dangerous trolls, monsters bugbears, creatures, and other such nastiness.” The rhyming text is not only engaging, but it also features many new vocabulary words to introduce to children. Can you find the mistake, however, in Gaiman’s “dangerous alphabet?”
For these and other books for young readers by Neil Gaiman, come see what the Nashville Public Library has to offer. After all, as Gaiman himself says, “librarians want to help you.”
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Bringing Books to Life helps educators and parents find fun and innovative ways to inspire children to read.
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Megan Godbey, Adult Literacy Coordinator/GROW facilitator
Klem-Mari Cajigas, Bilingual GROW Project Facilitator
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