Which zodiac animal are you? In traditional Chinese astrology, 2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox. I’m an Ox person. As a child, Ox seemed the most boring zodiac animal to be, but this year steadiness feels like a good quality to aspire to. A more peaceful year ahead is predicted and I hope the hard-working and kind Ox qualities of Chinese astrology can help our troubled world find some balance. Below are a few book ideas to help celebrate animal links to this new year.
Gabrielle Wang‘s book, Race for the Chinese Zodiac is a fun exploration of a legend about a competition, organised by the Jade Emperor, to assign each of 12 animals a different year. To win they must cross a mighty river and the animals’ individual qualities are exposed along the way. Gabrielle’s book introduces the Chinese Zodiac animals to young readers, and on a deeper level, gives a thought-provoking exploration of the metaphoric qualities attributed to different animals.
Bovines are often secondary, observational characters in books like Charlotte’s Web, Animal Farm, and Black Beauty. To celebrate 2021, the Year of the Metal Ox, here are three picture books with wonderful bovine characters playing a central role.
Remember this old classic? The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson is about a gentle bull who prefers smelling flowers to fighting. The book was first published in 1936. It’s non-violent message led to Adolf Hitler ordering it to be burned in Nazi Germany, while Joseph Stalin gave it special status as the only non-communist children’s book allowed in Poland. Indian pacifist Mahatma Gandhi called it his favorite book.
Pamela Allen is the beloved author of a swag of award-winning books. In the charming, Belinda Tom takes over the morning milking, but things don’t go as planned.
I love the title of I am Cow Hear Me Moo by Jill Esbaum and Gus Gordon. This fun, rhyming story is about a brave and confident cow, afraid of nothing, until she is left alone to explore a dark cave …
And finally, here are a few titles for little ones, featuring that best known Chinese New Year creature, the dragon; Maisie’s Chinese New Year, Peppa Pig: Chinese New Year. And for independent young readers, Fang Fang’s Chinese New Year.
Happy Year of the Ox, may your path through 2021 be steady.