by Vaughan Rapatahana
& Pauline Canlas Wu
Everyone has some understanding of the Chinese calendar which was developed more than two and a half thousand years ago, and the tale of the 12 animals that represent the divisions.
This educational resource book tells a different, imaginative story as the title suggests.
The animals characters in this version are mainly the same – rat through to pig – but with additions. The setting is a farm, location unspecified. It’s home for most of the animals (cow, horse, pig etc.), but with some effort the others are made to fit in (tiger, monkey and a flying fire-breathing dragon).
The story of each animal character, Robbie the rooster, Harry the horse, etc., is followed by several pages of educational content teaching literary devices such onomatopoeia, simile, vocabulary as well as introduction to new words, and exercises to increase understanding of the story.
The strong point of this 110 page book is in this educational content. An answer section for each of the sets of exercises is included at the end.
As for the narrative – it is better not to be too attached to the original story or stories of the selected animals. In this new modernized version there’s no mention of the Jade Emperor or the Buddha, or the classic race. And gendering of the animals means the yin-yang balance has been lost.
Though the introduction says, rightly, that there is a set order in which they arrive, on the same page the pictures of the twelve animals are in a different order, as they also appear on the back cover.
But what of the 13th animal – the cat of the title? Well, that’s a story you can read for yourself.
Less understandable, is the inclusion of an epilogue that introduces a newspaper-reading panda.
There has been good work put into the exercises that support each of the 14 sections, and it will be for the educational content that this book may find its way into classrooms.
Author: Vaughan Rapatahana & Pauline Canlas Wu
Publisher: User Friendly Resources
RRP: $24.99 for printed book or pdf. $36.99 for both printed book and pdf.