The Year of the Rabbit
Year 4071 of the Chinese lunar calendar was ushered in with the full moon on February 19 this year, and with it came the sixth in Immedium’s series of Tales from the Chinese Zodiac: The Year of the Rabbit.
People born in the year of the rabbit are said to be amiable and gentle, nimble and resourceful. They are known for having fine taste, good luck, and a forgiving nature. Such are the qualities embodied in Rosie, a long-eared (perhaps a little too long-eared) rabbit who befriends a human boy, Jai, when she is captured while sampling from his grandmother’s garden. Western traditions regarding rabbits (the Easter Bunny, lucky rabbit’s feet and being pulled from a hat) are addressed when the other animals from the farm (and from the Chinese zodiac) come by to meet Rosie. When Rosie’s parents come at night to break her out of the cage and bring her back to the burrow an anxious Jai follows with his dog and unwittingly alerts a sleeping tiger. Rosie hears his cry and comes to his rescue. All are ultimately saved when the tiger mistakes the horns of a sleeping dragon for Rosie’s ears and grasps them. In a moment of cultural confusion (Chinese dragons don’t breathe fire) the angered dragon chases the tiger away, shooting flames at his backside.
This bright and playful story makes the ancient tradition of the Chinese zodiac accessible to children everywhere. Justin Roth’s illustrations are in keeping with earlier titles in the series and reflect his background as an animator: the cartoon-like characters have exaggeratedly expressive faces that children will respond to. Kids will also have fun spotting all of the animals from the Chinese zodiac hiding in the pages of the book.
Comics expert and award-winning author Oliver Chin, who also wrote the first five Tales from the Chinese Zodiac books (illustrated by Jeremiah Alcorn and Justin Roth) as well as Timmy and Tammy’s Train of Thought, Baltazar and the Flying Pirates, and the graphic novel 9 of 1: A Window to the World, is, again, clearly in his element. The Year of the Rabbit is a timely way for the youngest readers to get acquainted with this aspect of Chinese tradition.