Animals in the Stars: Chinese Astrology for Children, by Gregory Crawford. Bear Cub Books, Rochester, VT 05767, 2002. $15.95 HB. Gregory Crawford has been an artist and a devotee of Chinese culture for most of his life. He is also a good storyteller. Here he combines those talents in a beautiful, informative, and interesting book. I would place this book as suitable for ages 5-10.
Basic to Chinese astrology is the assignment of one of 12 animals to each year. Gregory starts his book by telling us a short, interesting story of The Twelve Earthly Branches, including how the ancients decided which animal would come first. They were to decide by a race, and we learn how rat cooperated with ox to come in first. Thus clever rat starts the year. And cooperation won the day.
Then Gregory gives us a wheel, with all of the animals pictured on it. With the wheel is a table of animal years, so that the reader can find her/his animal.
However, I have a major criticism of that table. Instead of starting the year with the first New Moon in Aquarius, as do the Chinese, Gregory just notes the calendar year. This will give most people born in January an incorrect animal.
However, the animal pictures, and the animal stories are beautiful. Gregory also gives a short analysis of the characteristics of each sign, which is simple and accurate. In addition, Gregory notes a couple of trouble spots for the animals, as well as noting other animals with whom they are compatible.
On the cover is a very fine and ferocious dragon, which will intrigue most children. Aside from the caveat in regard to incorrect designation of the years beginning, I highly recommend this book. It would be fun to read, and discuss, with almost any child.
Astrology books for children are very scarce, and this lovely volume is welcome. I will purchase it as a Christmas gift for my grandchildren.