Friday, December 20, 2013
Why Rat Comes First: a Story of the Chinese Zodiac
Why Rat Comes First: a Story of the Chinese Zodiac retold by Clara Yen, Illus. by Hideo C. Yoshida, 1991.
This story has a different explanation for Rat's first place in the Chinese zodiac than his/her tricky behaviour with Cat. Author Clara Yen's father made it up to entertain her when she was a child. The Jade King in the clouds has heard tales about earth's animals, but he has never yet met any. So, he sends out invitations to a great feast. He is initially saddened when only twelve animals show up, but he decides to reward them by naming the years of the zodiac cycle after each of them. Rat feels that he should be first because he is smart, but Ox disagrees and thinks that he should be the leader due to his strength. When the animals argue over who should be the winner, the Jade King declares that earth's children should be the ones to choose. Information following the story describes the animal's characteristics and their ruling years.
Hideo C. Yoshida made the book's cheerful colored pencil and ink illustrations. The stylized animals are expressive and agreeable.