Oliver Chin, illustrated by Miah Alcorn,
The Year of the Rat: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac
Immedium Inc., 2007.
Oliver Chin has added this third title to his series based on the twelve animals of the Chinese Lunar calendar. Aptly published in time for 2008, The Year of the Rat: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac features the adventures of Ralph, a friendly young rat with a lot of spunk.
Ralph and his pal, a boy named Bing, eagerly explore the world around them. Ralph soon discovers that some of his ratlike qualities and behaviors are bothersome to others, especially Bing’s parents. Ralph tries hard to make friends and stay out of trouble, but, with all good intentions, he can’t seem to do so. He has a chance to redeem himself on the day of Bing’s birthday party when he uses those same ratlike qualities to save Bing’s life.
Ralph embodies the characteristics of those born in the Year of the Rat, which are listed at the end of the book, along with the relevant birth years. Chin’s story brings the Year of the Rat to life with his endearing characters and an amusing storyline. The cartoon-like drawings by Miah Alcorn, who has partnered with Chin for all three Tales from the Chinese Zodiac books, bring enthusiasm and added energy to Chin’s tale and characters.
Though recommended for elementary students, The Year of the Rat is steeped in Asian culture and will appeal to readers of all ages. And even if readers cannot engage personally with the traits of the Rat, they will certainly be able to identify with Ralph’s feats and struggles.
Mary Beth Cecchini