Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE CAT’S TALE by Doris Orgel


Why the Years Are Named for Animals

by Doris Orgel & illustrated by Meilo So

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59643-202-4
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

In this feline retelling of a Chinese tale about how the years were named for 12 different animals, a little girl’s cat provides personal perspective. Willow’s grandma, Nai Nai, tries to tell her the story of when the Jade Emperor invited his favorite animals to a river race, but forgets to include Cat. Offended, Willow’s cat, Mao, spills the real story of how Ox, Rat, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig and Cat competed in the Emperor’s river race. According to Mao, clever Rat convinced Cat they should ride on Ox’s back, but Rat betrayed Cat by pushing him into the river and leaping ashore first to win. So Jade Emperor named the first year cycle the Year of the Rat with each successive year named for the animals that completed the race, except for Cat, who never finished. So’s bright, humorous watercolor illustrations capture the intimacy between Willow and Mao and add punch to the competitive drama of the folktale river race, its sassy storyteller and the intergenerational subtext. (author’s note) (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)