Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review - The Year of the Monkey


The Year of the Monkey: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac

By: Oliver Chin
Illustrated by: Kenji Ono
Publisher: Immedium; Bilingual edition
Publication Date: December 2015
ISBN: 978-1597021180
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 27, 2016

It’s the Year of the Monkey, and to celebrate, Max the monkey has some mischief up his sleeve. Will he and his best buddy, Kai, be able to overcome the odds and win the local Jianzi tournament?

The Monkey King had a well-earned reputation for being a prankster so it was no surprise that his son, Max, would continue his dad’s shenanigans. Like his dad, Max was quite energetic and mischievous. When he was old enough to go to school, his pent-up energy often got him into trouble. The principal’s office was a place he visited often. What could his parents do to help channel some of that energy?

One day Max’s teacher showed him and the other kids the gym, where all sorts of activities were taking place. Ping pong, badminton, gymnastics...you name it, it was going on in that gym. When his teacher called him over to show him a few students playing ‘Jianzi’ (a traditional Chinese game, where players hit a shuttlecock over a net without use of their hands), Max was at first unimpressed. That was, until he tried it and fell in love with the challenging game.

Max soon decided that he wanted to be “...the best jianzi player,” but in order to do that, he’d have to team up with his friend Kai and then they’d have to beat Dragon and Tiger, THE best players, at the local tournament. Could they do it?

The Year of the Monkey is a neat story in the “Tales from the Chinese Zodiac” series that celebrates the 2016 Chinese Zodiac animal. Max has all the traits the Chinese zodiac ascribes to those born in the year of the monkey – “carefree, curious, and crafty...playful, nimble, and persistent.” Through Max, young readers will see how persistence can pay off when they see Max not give up. Even when others doubted Max could beat the reigning champions that didn’t keep him from trying. Not one to give up, his hard work was rewarded with a great prize – achieving his goal. There's plenty of action in this story to keep kids glued to the pages, plus it's the first time in the 'Chinese Zodiac' series that includes a Chinese translation along with the English text. Add in the bright, cheerful, and very playful artwork, and you have a book that young readers will love.

Quill says: A fun story about practice, practice, practice, and how it can help you achieve your goals.