The Great Animal Race

A Chinese Zodiac Tale For The Lunar New Year

Children - Picture Book
40 Pages
Reviewed on 04/24/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Originally from a small town in the Welsh valleys, Paula has lived and worked in early years education in China since 1998. Discovering her ‘animal’ was one of the very first things that she did when she landed in ‘The Middle Kingdom’, and exploring folk tales; immersing herself in both the language and 5000-year-old culture, is still a favourite past-time! The Great Animal Race has been told and retold a thousand times in a thousand different ways. Aimed at children from 3-108, Paula adds a pinch a piz-zazz to this age-old story with fun characters who slide through the book on a roller-coaster of rhythm and rhyme!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristine Zimmerman for Readers' Favorite

The Great Animal Race: A Chinese Zodiac Tale for the Lunar New Year by Paula Zhou is an updated twist on this centuries-old tale. The Chinese Zodiac is divided into a twelve-year cycle, where an animal represents each year. The emperor decides to celebrate his birthday by having the animals race. The race runs down a fast-moving river, and each creature navigates it differently. Some animals work together, and some are tricky and find ways to move into better positions. In this version, the race is narrated by a panda who is not racing but enjoying the excitement. Just when it seems like all the animals have crossed the finish line, one straggler finally arrives, making it an even dozen. Who will cross the finish line last?

Paula Zhou has written a fun rhyming version of this ancient legend. Kids will enjoy seeing how each animal behaves in the race. They will probably also be surprised to see which animal finishes first. The illustrations by Jenna Croftcheck highlight each of the animals as they swim, fly, or paddle down the river. The first couple of spreads will have kids guessing which animals will be racing and then finding them on the following page as they are each mentioned. Zhou has included a chart at the end that lists all the animals and the years associated with them. Kids and adults will enjoy figuring out which animal year they were born. The Great Animal Race is a wonderful introduction to this Chinese cultural tradition.