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The Race for the Chinese Zodiac
Gabrielle Wang
Illustrated by Sally Rippin

Candlewick Press
11/26/2013 / ISBN 9780763667788
Children / Zodiac /Chinese culture / Fairy Tales, Myths & Fables / 5 - 8 Years

Reviewed by Bob Walch


This retelling of the legendary animals’ race that led to the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac is illustrated utilizing a Chinese painting technique that makes the picture book a joy to read and look at.

The tale opens when the Jade Emperor, ruler of heaven and Earth, challenges the animals to a race. “The first twelve animals to cross the river will each have a year named after them,” he announces.

With the challenge issued, the animals are off, but each one will have to find a way of using his own gifts to cross the water obstacle. While the strongest, like the tiger and ox, can swim across the river, the others must be more creative. Rabbit finds a log to hold on to so that he can float across while rooster makes a raft and allows monkey and goat to hitch a ride. Rat, cat and snake all hitch rides on other animals while dog and pig get distracted and are almost left out of the contest.

One animal isn’t in the group of twelve critters that make it across first, so it is left out. Do you know which animal this is? You’ll discover that this animal was betrayed by another and so, to this day, they are lifelong enemies.

Reviewed 2014