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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Great Race for the Lunar Calendar by Valerie Tsen tells the story of the Chinese Zodiac with the occurrence of a Great Race where twelve animals raced for placement on the calendar. The story is set long ago in ancient China during a time when they had no way to measure time. So one day the Jade Emperor decided to create a calendar and a Great Race would determine the placement of the animals on it. The first twelve would gain their placement according to who makes it across the finish line first. So all the animals gathered for the Great Race and one by one they made their way through a river with some working together to reach the other side.
This is a lovely story that tells a story about teamwork and brings the Chinese Zodiac to life in a clever tale. The story opens with the world having no way to tell time, which brings about the idea for the Jade Emperor to create the lunar calendar. All the animals gather together to participate in the Great Race, which introduces the Zodiac animals and their personalities as they get ready to race. The story showcases different examples of kindness and teamwork among the animals who have a friendly competition in that it doesn't matter what their placement is, only that they finish the race. Some of the animals give up the place they would have had in order to help one of the other animals.
Valerie Tsen captures the personalities such as the sneakiness of the snake who hides in the horse's mane. An example of teamwork is seen when the sheep, monkey, and rooster built a raft so they could work together to cross the water. This story is great for all ages and sparks excitement in children to discover more about the Chinese Zodiac and Chinese culture. The illustrations are brightly colored and have adorable depictions of the animals. The Great Race for the Lunar Calendar is humorous and entertaining while teaching lessons in teamwork, kindness, helpfulness, and provides a great chart to find your own Zodiac animal.