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The Great Race

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The Great Race


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Before there was a Chinese calendar, the Jade emperor invited all the animals of the kingdom to a swimming race. Though small, Rat was “clever, ambitious, and quick-witted” and managed to outwit Ox and his friend Cat and win the race. As each animal swam ashore, the Emperor named the years in that order. There were only twelve finishers. There was, however, a great celebration among all thirteen animals. A chart of the character of the winning animals, as well as a list of their years of appearance (they recycle every twelve years), shows the reader what sign he or she was born under. Not only does the Chinese zodiac differ from Western astrology but the monthly calendar differs too, with each Chinese month set according to the moon cycle. Thus, Chinese New Year varies according to when the first new moon of the year begins. Dragon boat festivals and moon festivals are other Chinese celebrations described. The illustrations are a mixture of printed paper collages and acrylics. The colors are particularly striking (jade green included); and the Emperor, his animals, and Chinese ornaments make this a very festive book. Ages: 4-9 Colour illustrations

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