What It Is
In ancient times, a Chinese Emperor wanted his people to remember the year his son was born. They didn’t numerically count years at that time, and there was no way to keep track. So he challenges the animals to race across the river. The first 12 to reach the opposite side would have the year named after them and thus, people would be able to remember the years and the events that occurred in them. The race was quite competitive! Rat knew he was no match for the rushing water and devised a scheme with Cat to efficiently cross the river. Together the two convince Ox to carry them across. But halfway across the river, Rat shows his true colors, and as the title says, there’s no year of the cat!
Why It’s Fun
According to Chinese tradition, each year is marked by an animal. 2013 is the Year of the Snake. But how did this practice get started? This new book tells us with an engaging and suspenseful story with illustrations that transport readers to ancient China.
Who It’s For
Even though the Chinese New Year has just passed us by, this book is worth a read anytime and not just once a year. It’s on the long side, so it’s probably a book for later in the kindergarten year and up.
What To Be Aware Of
Of course, this is a legend, but it is one that is told often to children in Chinese culture. The choice of animals is based on the Chinese Zodiac, which is similar to the Western Zodiac, with the exception that it is measured in years rather than months. Ages are counted in intervals of 12. You know you’re 12 years older when the year in which you were born comes again. This is a fun story, similar to legends in other cultures that seek to put a story around long-established traditions whose actual origins are obscure.