cover image Year of the Cat

Year of the Cat

Richard Ho, illus. by Jocelyn Li Langrand. Greenwillow, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-297682-6

Rat, victor of the legendary race that determined the Chinese zodiac calendar order, feels guilty, not for claiming the calendar’s first year, but for pushing Cat into the river and leaving her behind. Wanting to make amends, Rat persuades the other zodiac animals to journey together and, as a group, apologize. Ho’s largely conversational text unfolds as each animal, in reverse race-winning order, falls folly to a predominant trait: Pig, tasked by Rat with finding food for the journey, eats a bundle of persimmons and falls asleep; Sheep, Monkey, and Rooster, asked by Rat to engage in teamwork, engage in an engineering-related argument; and Dragon, always game to assist others, soon heads off to help a distant village. Rat again finishes first, but an unexpected twist from Cat plays on felines’ perennial popularity. Li Langrand’s vibrant, digitally drawn depiction is rich with details in this amusing homage to a classic tale. An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)