Friday, February 15, 2013
Why Cats Chase Mice: A Story of the Twelve Zodiac Signs
Why Cats Chase Mice: A Story of the Twelve Zodiac Signs Retold and Illus. by Mina Harada Eimon, 1993.
This story explains how the Asian Zodiac signs originated and why cats and mice are no longer friends. Back when all the animals got along, Kami-sama, the creator-god, explained that he needed twelve special animal helpers to aid him in guarding creation. Each would watch over things for a year at a time. The animals would be chosen on January first, when all creatures would race to his palace, and the first twelve to arrive would be the winners. The animals were all excited, but the cat Neko-san fell asleep during Kami-sama's announcement and didn't hear the day of the race! Unfortunately, he checked the date with the tricky mouse Nezumi-san. We know the helpers/Zodiac signs are the mouse (rat), ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. No cat. What could have gone wrong?
Eimon's art is colorful and her characters express big emotions. As the story begins, a family of tricky mice prepare to send a wind up mouse out to a disgruntled cat who is waiting at their hole. They are clearly enjoying their joke. Nezumi-san is also thrilled by his chance to best Neko-san and is shown waving a fluffy dandelion with an expression of glee. Finally, a priceless picture of the sulky cat, with flat ears, crossed paws and a dramatic frown, surrounded by the new Zodiac animals is bound to make readers smile.