February 1, 2011

Books for Chinese New Year

From the title of the book, I thought it was a fictional account of why the author's mother became a dragon and why her father became a boar. Instead, it contains a one-page story about how the twelve animals were chosen and why cats chase rats. It then provides personality profiles for each of the animals and lists the years associated with each one. What stands out are the cut paper illustrations. Set against colourful backgrounds, they look like beautiful stained-glass windows. A history of Chinese paper art is included.

by Ed Young

The Jade Emperor held a race to determine the twelve animals who would be named on the Chinese calendar. Cat and Rat, who were friends, thought they could get a head start by riding on Buffalo's back. However, the Rat has other ideas. 

This is a rather dark story made even more sinister by Ed Young's ghostly illustrations. It might be better suited for Hallowe'en.

A collection of short fables starring the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Told in the manner of Aesop, each fable ends with a moral or aphorism: a fox outwits the tiger, showing that small creatures must live by their wits; the snake learns not to judge others by appearances; and for the monkeys, ignorance is bliss. 

The stories are nice, but the illustrations don't complement them very well. They're a little vague and small, though the circular designs remind me of Chinese plates.

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