The Year of the Sheep: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac by Oliver Chin, illustrated by Alina Chau
What? 2014 is almost over? I never caught up with everything I shoulda done in 2013. Oh well … at least I can start 2015 with expectations of finding “approachable, easy-going, and cooperative” little sheep throughout the year!
Yes, indeed, 2015 [and … 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, ad infinitum] is the Year of the Sheep according to the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Hail once again to author Oliver Chin, founding publisher of San Francisco-based indie press, Immedium, whose Tales from the Chinese Zodiac continues with the 10th installment of his 12-part series. This year, Chin introduces a new collaborator, San Francisco artist Alina Chau, whose whimsically watercolor-ed, large-eyed characters seem to beckon you right onto the page.
Meet Sydney, who soon enough becomes best friends with the shepherds’ daughter Zhi. The shepherds, Mama and Papa Sheep explain, “‘look after us and we take care of them,'” providing them wool, milk, and cheese. Oh, so true! Where would we be without our four-legged benefactors?!
Budding shepherdess that she is, Zhi’s “‘job is to make sure that [the sheep] are always well-fed.'” While the rest of the flock stays together – “‘safety in numbers,”” Papa Sheep warns – Sydney follows her own path: up an apple tree, into the forbidden garden, down the chimney. Getting in trouble seems to be her very best talent. But her curiosity eventually saves all – the grass, the river, the meadow, the animals. Not to mention they have quite the adventure working all together with Sydney’s bleats of “‘C’mon, one more time'”!
So here’s more on Sheep-ish characteristics: “They are kind-hearted, down-to-earth, and creative. But they can be shy, tend to go with the flow, and need a bit of guidance. Though they like the routine comforts of home, sheep are nurturing and giving pals.” Based on that description, I’m thinking our little lamb might be more fearless Dog, headstrong Horse, or adventurous Tiger (and, as with the other Tales, you’ll find the other zodiac-ed animals right in the fray – we all need a little help from our friends!), but you’ll need to read for yourself and decide accordingly. Any way you turn the page, you’ve got another intrepid, courageous, tenacious tale to enjoy.