No Year of the Cat

No Year of the Cat

by Mary Dodson Wade, Nicole Wong

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Long ago, the emperor of China, seeking a way to help recall the year in which certain events occur, calls upon the animals to race one another and the first twelve to finish will have a year named after them.See more details below


Long ago, the emperor of China, seeking a way to help recall the year in which certain events occur, calls upon the animals to race one another and the first twelve to finish will have a year named after them.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
The emperor has a big problem. So many important events are happening but there is no way to remember them or keep track of the years. The emperor proposes a solution: there will be a race between the animals. He proposes that the first twelve animals to cross the river will each have a year named after them. Cat is excited for the chance at such a prestigious position, but realizes that crossing the river will be difficult. Cat, along with his friend Rat concoct a plan to ride Ox's back across the river. Along the way, Rat becomes selfish and pushes Cat off, which could ruin Cat's chances at honor. This is a traditional Chinese folktale about why each Chinese year is named after an animal and why there is no Year of the Cat. It is a great book to read to elementary children during Chinese New Year. The writing is fluid and easy to understand, and the pictures are beautifully drawn and create a believable setting that will introduce children to the Chinese culture. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—The story of the Chinese zodiac is a popular folktale of friendship and betrayal, retold again and again in picture-book format. Since no one in the kingdom remembers when important events have occurred, the emperor decides to create a 12-year calendar. The first 12 animals to win the race across the kingdom's rushing river will provide the nomenclature. Wong's creative use of the landscape highlights the dynastic setting while borders around the text showcase the white-water race, emphasizing the cyclical nature of the calendar. The watercolor illustrations' overall deftness, panoramic views, and traditional sensibility will please children. The dynamic, humorous storytelling spotlights the role of the advisors. Readers get a strong sense of the Han emperor's daily routine, palace, and costume-as well as of his mirthful personality. Various traits also shine forth from the animals-the magnanimity of Ox, the honesty of Pig, and, of course, the treachery of Rat. A beautiful visual touch at the race's finale is the elated emperor holding an outstretched scroll with the names of the 12 victorious animals in both English and Chinese characters, animals huddled around. Don't miss the wonderful ideas in the online teaching guide either. That said, Ed Young's calligraphy-inspired, more abstractly illustrated version of the folktale, Cat and Rat (Square Fish, 1998), has superior back matter, including a timetable to determine in which animal year readers were born. This version, along with Young's classic, would make a thought-provoking, contrastive pairing.—Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
A perennially popular pourquoi story gets a fresh, if not entirely necessary, update. Over the last two decades, many explanations of the Chinese calendar have been published. Bare-bones retellings contrast with others that offer embellishments like a framing story or list of the zodiac signs and their attributes. All, of course, wind up with the same 12 years. Despite the stiff competition, Wade manages to create an engaging narrative, one that feels traditional yet offers unique details. Her Jade Emperor wants to name the years so he can celebrate and remember the birth of his son. He has three amusing advisors who repeat his every utterance and who scurry to arrange the race of the animals. While the outcome is never in question, the perils of the race are clearly conveyed, along with the pride of those who triumph and the cat's (eternal) frustration at being tricked by the wily rat. Wong's watercolor illustrations offer lovely vistas and appealing portraits. The framing pictures that surround each animal's narrative are particularly effective, illuminating aspects of their journeys and evoking the movement of the waves. Both pictures and text offer enough variety to overcome the potential dullness of the repetitive aspects of the tale. Whether familiar with the tale or not, young readers and folklore students alike will enjoy this latest (but likely not last) retelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 5-8)

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Product Details

Sleeping Bear Press
Publication date:
Myths, Legends, Fairy and Folktales
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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