Cover image for The Chinese book of animal powers
The Chinese book of animal powers
Huang, Al Chung-liang.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[New York] : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations ; 23 x 27 cm
Describes the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac with their strengths and weaknesses, and shows how to write their names in Chinese calligraphy.
General Note:
"Joanna Cotler books."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.6 0.5 58194.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1714.C5 H76 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BF1714.C5 H76 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



What are the Chinese Animal Powers? Chungliang Al Huang, celebrated author, artist, teacher, and dancer, reveals the energy and fun of a 2,500-year-old Chinese tradition in this exquisite picture book for all ages. Legend tells us that the Lord Buddha summoned the animals to hear of their power in his sermon under the Banyan Tree. Buddha taught twelve of the animals about their strengths and weaknesses and sent them into the world to guide people in their growth, linking each animal to a month and a year.

Find out which animal powers you were born with and which powers your friends and family possess. Have fun pronouncing Chinese names with sounds that trace back to ancient times. See the animals' movements by tracing elegant brush calligraphy. Discover the fun of an ancient Chinese tradition with this unique picture book by an expert teacher and philosopher.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. For nearly 2,500 years, "the Chinese have believed that each of us is born with one or two of the initial characteristics and powers of these twelve animals, depending on the month and year of our birth." Each double-page spread introduces the strengths and weaknesses of a particular creature, along with typical astrological advice. An appended chart identifies the month and year associated with each animal. Each figure is delineated by sweeping brush strokes and is accompanied by Chinese calligraphy and the romanized Chinese word. An appended glossary attempts to link calligraphy and dance while explaining very complex Chinese philosophical terms. A video would be a better vehicle for the former, and a much longer book is required for the latter. Children will probably skip those pages as they consult their astrological horoscope. This thin slice of Asian culture will add a multicultural dimension to astrology collections while introducing children to Chinese brush calligraphy. --Linda Perkins

Publisher's Weekly Review

Huang (Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain, for adults) incorporates Chinese beliefs via an energetic and artistic tribute to the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. When Buddha called 12 creatures together under the Banyan Tree, the brief preface explains, he "taught them about their strengths and weaknesses, then sent all twelve animals into the world to guide people in their growth, linking each animal to a month and year." Youngest readers may require some additional enlightenment for a few of the terms that follow (e.g., chi, power of creative expression, and tao, one's path), but all readers will likely appreciate the fact that Huang offers an unadulterated story here. Thick black brush strokes that seem to dance on the page outline one exuberant creature per spread, labeled by its Chinese name (Tswoo, Neeoh, Whoo, etc.), accompanied by its calligraphic symbol. Concise descriptions explain the characteristics of the animal as well as its relevance to the sermon under the Banyan Tree. For instance, the first arrival, Tswoo, "sometimes call[ed] a mouse, a rat, or a guinea pig..." represents the innocence of "The Beginner's Mind" in Buddhism. Joo (a pig), who arrives just in time for the sermon, is "a lesson in what the Chinese call the TAO of Being instead of Doing." Readers of all ages will want to use the closing chart to piece together their own characteristics (based on their year and month of birth), then profile all their friends. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 4 Up-Using a picture-book format, an accomplished calligrapher depicts each animal of the Chinese zodiac on a double-page spread and outlines the supposed personality traits of people born under that sign. The Chinese characters naming the animals are written in elegant black-and-white brush strokes, as well as the cursive letters of the English alphabet, using the author's own idiosyncratic, phonetic Romanization. Calligraphy, the foundation of Chinese painting, revered above all other Chinese arts for 2000 years, is the star here. In a "Dancing Glossary," the author connects calligraphy with whole-body movement and briefly explains related terms (chi, yin and yang, and tai ji). The text is as entertaining as a newspaper astrology column and just as slight. Ed Young's Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac (Holt, 1995) and Eric Kimmel's The Rooster's Antlers (Holiday, 1999) tell different stories explaining how the animals were chosen and placed in sequence. Since Huang does not tell a story that will hold children's interest, this book is most useful for showing examples of fine modern Chinese calligraphy.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.