Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg

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Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: A simple, charming story about a small panda exploring his world and discovering all the things he can do by himself – almost!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: July 2017
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 9781484758472

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There's something utterly delightful (and, it must be said, sometimes infuriating, especially when you're in a hurry) about the toddler's determination to be independent. Scrambling along using any handy piece of furniture or, if they don't move fast enough, the family pet as a prop, exploring cupboards full of the most enticing objects, and the daily struggle to get as much dinner in his or her own mouth as on the walls – all that requires grit and a refusal to fail which augurs well for the little one's future. That can-do attitude, so lauded by education, enterprise and big business, is a quality Chengdu the panda has in bucket-loads!

We first meet our minuscule hero as he wakes up in the forest. After a good night's sleep the next priority is breakfast, and the rest of this cheerful little story shows us Chengdu's efforts to get hold of some juicy bamboo to eat. It could be a tale of frustration and rage as Chengdu struggles to reach the tasty leaves high above him, but no – the whole point of the book is not about what he can't do, but what he can. He stretches up and climbs, and even accidentally flies, but he remains focussed and determined until the happy moment when he attains his goal. How? Well, you'll have to read the book to see!

This is a gentle book, both in its theme of a young creature who remains positive and doesn't fuss, and in its presentation. No bright or harsh primary colours here and no wild adventures - just a soft green and blue setting of bamboo, distant misty mountains and soft, fluffy clouds. Chengdu himself is round and cuddly, cute without being sickly-sweet, and funny too – many toddlers will especially love the page where he discovers what happens when he swings just a little too enthusiastically on a bendy branch. The text is brief and uncomplicated, which will make it easy for a small person to repeat and remember, and now and then there are pages to unfold to add to the anticipation. Definitely a book for snuggling up to read just before bed.

You can follow more of Chendu's adventures in Chengdu Could Not, Would Not, Fall Asleep. And fans of pandas (well, who isn't?) will also love Pom Pom Gets the Grumps by Sophy Henn and Amazing Daddy by Rachel Bright.

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Buy Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chengdu Can Do by Barney Saltzberg at


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