Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac

This is a wonderfully charming and beautifully illustrated children’s book explaining the legend of how the Chinese years came to be named for animals. It really is a marvelous little tale, but don’t plan on reading it in dim light. The illustrations are so low-key as to be invisible in low light and the reverse (white on black) text is equally unviewable. So save "Cat and Rat" for a daytime reading or with the lights full on. Ages 6 & Up. The story itself, whether adapted from an actual Chinese legend, is wonderul. Cat and rat are great friends. The Emperor announces a contest, a race for all the animals. The first twelve animals to cross the finish line will have a year named in their honor. How the friends cat and rat became enemies is an engaging tale. Words and pictures work well in this book. Great for dramatic reading to the little ones in your life. (
Year of Publication
Number of Pages
Henry Holt and Company
New York
ISSN Number
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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Cat and Rat Review

Field of Interest/Specialty: early childhood/ elementary
Posted On: 11/21/2013

Cat and Rat: The legend of the Chinese Zodiac
By Ed Young
Review By: Jessica Glenn- elementary substitute- Central PA
This book explains the legend about how the Chinese calendar was named for animals. The emperor announced a race for all the animals and he promised to name each year in the twelve year cycle after the winners, the first twelve animals who finished the race. This story also gives a reason as to why the rat and the car are enemies still until this day.
I thought this Chinese folk tale was an engaging story. The pictures in this book are also amazing! This story would be great to be used with children in either first or second grade. The culturally based literature would be appropriate to read around the Chinese New Year. The students then could further research the reasons behind the different animals that were chosen to represent the years in the Chinese calendar.