Series: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac (Book 11)
Written by Oliver Chin
Illustrated by Kenji Ono
36 pages Age 4—8
2016 is the Year of the Monkey.
“Max is the son of the famous Monkey King and Queen, who have very high expectations. When he and his school chum, Kai, discover a new sport, does Max have what it takes to rise to the top? Max’s journey to discover his unique personality will delight kids of all ages. Eleventh is the annual Tales from the Chinese Zodiac series, The Year of the Monkey shows all the charming characters of the Chinese lunar calendar and how the sky id the limit.” [inside jacket]
The Year of the Monkey immediately gained my enthusiasm. Written in both English and simplified Chinese—the first time in this series—Max stars as the son of the Monkey King and Queen.
When he was born, the Jade Emperor proclaimed,
“If this child follows in his parents footsteps, heaven below had better take notice.”
Take notice they did. As a young child Max was always moving. He could not stop climbing, jumping, twisting, or turning. He wants to learn all of the “family tricks,” of which dad says there are many. Max finds an outlet for all his energy when Coach introduces Max and his best friend Kai to the sport of Jianzi. In Jianzi, the idea is to flick—with your feet—a shuttlecock over the net so high and fast that your opponent cannot return it.
Max and Kai love jianzi and practice every possible moment. They join the school team and soon become the top doubles team. Max keeps trying to think of ways to become even better. Mom, who considered jianzi a “silly sport” until saw her son’s determination, suggests Max needs a special move. Dad steps in, teaching Max one of the family tricks.
The annual shuttlecock tournament arrives and Max and Kai have entered. The team to beat is Dragon and Tiger. This big and strong duo are quick on their feet. Max and Kai do well, winning their first few matches. Soon, they must beat the team with Snake, a terrific kicker and passer, and then Dragon and Tiger. Can Max and Kai defeat the mighty champions?
I really enjoyed The Year of the Monkey. The illustrations are amazing. The action flies off the spreads. Max and the other characters are larger-than-life, full of spirit, energy, and emotion. I like the bright, active colors and the distinctive Chinese look some characters possess. What first caught my attention upon opening the cover was the bilingual English-Chinese text. This is the first book I have seen of this kind. A glossary of Chinese characters would have been a nice addition, but given that Chinese is much more than simple letters, a glossary might have been too much of an undertaking.
The sport of jianzi is similar to hacky-sack, except in competition a net is used. The game plays much like badminton without the use of hands. I was confused when a poster announced the “shuttlecock” tournament, when in previous spreads the sport is called jianzi. I checked and both terms are acceptable for this game, though not explained in the text or in an author’s note after the story. Consistency is a better tool.
Boys and girls alike will love The Year of the Monkey. This is a fun story. The characters are not all Chinese—one girl is blond-haired, blue-eyes—making it easy for young children to see themselves in the story, nationalities aside. The series is interesting and unusual at the same time. Kids will learn of a new sport and through Max, the characteristics and virtues of the zodiac Monkey. I love that young children will learn kids are kids no matter where they live. Multiple themes claiming this adorable story including friendship, cooperation/teamwork, creativity, and determination. The Year of the Monkey—or the book matching your child’s Chinese zodiac—makes a good multicultural book for young children up to age nine.
THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY (TALES FROM THE CHINESE ZODIAC: BOOK 11). Text copyright © 2016 by Oliver Chin. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Kenji Ono. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Immedium, San Francisco, CA.
Meet the author, Oliver Chin, at his website:
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Meet the illustrator, Kenji Ono, at his website: http://www.kenjionoart.com/
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Find more books at the Immedium website: http://www.immedium.com/
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Tales from the Chinese Zodiac Series
Author: Oliver Chin
Illustrators: Jeremiah Alcorn, Kenji Ono, Justin Roth, Jennifer Wood
1: The Year of the Dog
2: The Year of the Pig
3: The Year of the Rat
4: The Year of the Ox
5: The Year of the Tiger
6: The Year of the Rabbit
7: The Year of the Dragon
8: The Year of the Snake
9: The Year of the Horse
10: The Year of the Sheep
12: The Year of the Rooster (releasing late 2016)
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: The Year of the Monkey by Oliver Chin & Kenji Ono, and received from Immedium, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY by Oliver Chin. Illustrations © 2015 by Kenji Ono. Used by permission of Immedium.
Jianzi or Shuttlecock, 3-Men Teams