A Kid's Guide to the Chinese Zodiac: Animal Horoscopes, Legendary Myths, and Practical Uses for Ancient Wisdom
“A Kid’s Guide to the Chinese Zodiac is a must-have for anyone wanting to understand the Chinese culture . . .”
A Kid’s Guide to the Chinese Zodiac is a delightful introduction to the Chinese culture and how it categorizes people by the energy from 12 animals and five elements (wood, water, fire, earth and metal), making for 60 combinations. Each person has an animal assigned to them, based on the year they were born. The animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
Besides their year animal, each person also has an animal for the time of month they were born, the day of the week, and the hour of their birth. The book doesn’t cover day of the week but instructs readers to a website to learn more.
The format of the book is consistent from chapter to chapter including family, friendship, school, and activities for each animal sign energy. It attempts to take a complicated aspect of the Chinese culture and break it down into understandable parts.
For instance, a person born in the year, month or hour of the Goat would have goat energy and be “interested in people and always attuned to their needs, often putting others ahead of the self.” A person with a goat sign might be “messy” and “sometimes struggle to express opinions that may cause conflict.”
Goats are “conflict averse,” which is a pretty big idea for an eight year old. The vocabulary of the book is elevated beyond the reach of a regular third grader, even though the book says it’s for 8 to 12 year olds. Some of the advanced words used are: manifests, sedates, implies, advocating, deluding, stifling, aloof, latent, sinuous, caprine, ingenious, invincible, irrepressible, tentative, escalate, stasis, skepticism, humility, ferocity, deities, immortality, inherently, penance, and predatory patron.
The About the Author page reveals that Aaron Hwang also has an adult book about the zodiac, so that might explain the advanced vocabulary.
The author uses idioms that are charming, in contrast to the elevated vocabulary: “take a load off,” “get out of your head,” “make like a wet dog, shake it off, and move on,” “a nice middle ground,” “do your best to bark less and wag more,” “don’t let yourself get stuck in the mud,” “letting yourself wallow” and “there’s more than one way to peel a banana.” They seem more kid friendly than the vocabulary mentioned above.
Some bits of interesting trivia include “owning pigs was a sign of a family’s wealth.”
The explanation of Tiangou, a mighty dog that became immortal after licking up a leftover immortality pill, is a kid-friendly legend. “Tiangou chases the sun and moon, causing an eclipse whenever he finally catches one in his mouth.” Chinese people make noise and light firecrackers during an eclipse to warn Tiangou. “Bad dog, spit it out!”
The art is colorful and sprinkled throughout the book. The end papers depict the 12 animals. The cover is inviting, with two kids pointing to the stars while surrounded by the dozen animals.
A Kid’s Guide to the Chinese Zodiac is a must-have for anyone wanting to understand the Chinese culture and will be a nice edition for brilliant third graders and average to brilliant seventh graders, plus adults who want a quick overview and easy read.