Why Rat Comes First: A Story of the Chinese Zodiac

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9780892390724: Why Rat Comes First: A Story of the Chinese Zodiac
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Explains why Rat comes first in the Chinese calendar cycle of twelve years.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The Chinese-American author says that, when she was a child, her father read her several folk tales explaining the ordering of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, but she preferred this one, which he had ``made up.'' From his throne high in the sky, the Jade King invites all the animals to a feast, but just 12 come. To honor them, the king decides to give their names to the years in the calendar cycle. Rat suggests that he should be first: he's clever; Ox counters by pointing out his own strength. When the people of earth are asked to choose ``the most special,'' gentle ox beguiles the children by giving them rides. Rat, declaring that Ox's size gives him an unfair advantage, cajole the Prime Minister into transforming him into a giant rat: most special, as everyone agrees. Spiced by mildly satirical events, but the good-humored spirit appropriate to the New Year prevails in this unusual, well-told tale. The Japanese-American illustrator's stylized art is lively and colorful. Details on the Chinese lunar calendar are included. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

High in the heavens, the Jade King announces he will invite all of the animals of China to a grand feast. But a gust of wind scatters the invitations, and the ruler does not know which animals will receive them. When only 12 show up at his celebration, the king decides to reward his guests by naming one of the 12 years in the calendar cycle after each of them. The creatures are honored, but two--Rat and Ox--both want the first year to carry their name. The Jade King lets the children on earth choose which one will come first in the cycle. A deft storyteller, Yen adds both grace and vivacity to this Chinese folktale. Her narrative's occasional, well-placed rhyme makes this an especially good choice for reading aloud. While Yoshida's sketchy ink and colored-pencil drawings are not quite as impressive, they possess a vibrant, somewhat old-fashioned panache. Included is a brief guide to the signs of the Chinese zodiac. Ages 6-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Clara Yen, Hideo C. Yoshida (Illustrator)
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