The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

The Great Race book cover


Here at HapaMama, we’re celebrating by hosting a Chinese New Year blog hop. Check out my review of The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac courtesy of Barefoot Books.

Then check out the links for more great Chinese New Year Posts from my blogging buddies!


The Lunar New Year is a two week celebration during which families decorate their homes, visit with relatives, and of course, eat lots of delicious foods. The holiday also marks the changing of the Chinese zodiac calendar.

My children love learning about which animal they were, and what characteristics people born in their years are supposed to possess. I’m the mother of a horse and a monkey. But did you ever wonder how the twelve creatures of the Chinese calendar were chosen?

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The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Anne Wilson (Barefoot Books, 2006) is a fun, kid-friendly picture book that explains how the animals were assigned to their years. Big Brother was especially excited when the folks at Barefoot Books sent us a copy, because he remembered that we had checked out a copy of this book from the library a few years ago.

The story starts many moon ago, when the people of China had no calendar.

“Something must be done,” said the Jade Emperor , the King of Heaven. “I will start a calendar and name each year after a different animal. But how can I choose which order the animals should come in?”

“I’ll hold a race!” the Jade Emperor decided.”Yes — a swimming race across a wide river! I will name the years in the order that the animals finish.”

But as the animals find out, there is more than one way to win a race…

My children loved this story, and I have to admit that since my own knowledge of Lunar New Year traditions was a bit thin, reading this book with them was the first time I heard the tale behind the cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.


How to Win a Copy of The Great Race 

Want to read the full story of The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac? You could win a free copy from Barefoot Books. Just go to Facebook, “like” the Barefoot Books  page, and come back to HapaMama and leave a comment below saying that you’ve done so. One lucky winner will be picked on January 27!

This contest is already closed. Check back for more offers for Chinese New Year!
Chinese New Year Blog Hop

Check  more great Year of the Dragon posts from my multicultural blogging buddies.

Traditions and Activities:

Bicultural Mama: Symbolism of Chinese New Year’s Foods

I’m Not the Nanny: Lunar New Year Activities in DC and Baltimore

Travels With Baby: Celebrating Chinese New Year in Taiwan

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Chinese New Year Traditions and the Year of the Dragon

Tech, Food, Life: Happy Chinese New Year!


Spicebox Travels: Lucky Shrimp Dumplings

Tiger in the Kitchen: Lo Bak Gao

Anastasia‘s Asian Stock at Can It You Nit!

Cathy‘s Yu Sheng at Show Food Chef

Emma‘s Korean Rice-Cake Soup at Dreaming of Pots and Pans

Linda‘s Gluten-Free Fortune Cookies at Free Range Cookies

Mai‘s very cute roundup of February’s Let’s Lunch at Cooking in the Fruit Bowl

Rashda‘s Long Life Noodles at Hot Curries & Cold Beer

Steff‘s Lucky Orange Muffins at The Kitchen Trials




  1. says

    Thanks for telling us about this book – I hadn’t heard of this one before. I just “liked” Barefoot Books on FB and I’d love to win this book for my little one!

    Wishing everyone a health, happiness and prosperity in the Year of the Dragon!

  2. says

    This is one of my top picks for children’s literature dealing with Chinese history and culture! The story is charmingly told in a manner that is convincingly authentic and is a good accompaniment to learning about the Chinese zodiac. This is culturally educational, as well as being a well-written children’s story. I especially enjoyed the illustrations, as their color and texture conveyed a darkness and depth of emotion that is rather unique in children’s literature.

  3. Tracey @ Don't Mess with Mama says

    I liked Barefoot Books on FB. Would love to win the giveaway. I know Rat came first but not about the others. My kids already know their Chinese zodiac signs and I’d love to share this story with them. Thanks!


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