THE RACE FOR THE CHINESE ZODIAC. Text copyright © 2010 by Gabrielle Wang. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Sally Rippin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books Australia and Black Dog Books.

“The Race for the Chinese Zodiac,” by Gabrielle Wang, illustrated by Sally Rippin; Candlewick Press, $14.99, 32 pages, ages 5-7.

In Gabrielle Wang’s retelling of this classic Chinese creation story, the Jade Emperor announces a race to determine which twelve animals will have a year named after them in the zodiac. As the gong sounds, the animals plunge into a mighty river and make their way to the finish line.  Who will be first? Who stops at nothing to win?  Children and adults will find this a pleasure to read, and its quick pace mimics the feel of competitors vying for the top spot. Sally Rippin renders Charming Rat, Spirited Horse and all the other animals in Chinese ink and earth-toned linocuts. 

After reading the end notes to find out which Zodiac year is yours, try this fun post-reading activity: Enlarge the Chinese characters for each animal that are found throughout the book. Give children a big brush and let them trace the characters with bold brushstrokes.  

马年大吉(Wishing you luck in the Year of the Horse!)


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