Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison

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Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison

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Buy Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A funny, unusual picture book - better for school age children rather than toddlers.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 36 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Auspicious Times
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-9881888259

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Here in this tale we find ourselves back in the year 221BC, and the Emperor Qin Shi Huang is having some rodent issues. As this is from a series of books called The Chinese Calendar Tales I think I was expecting the story to relate more to the Chinese zodiac and the rabbit's place within it. However, this is really just a story about a very naughty rabbit who keeps eating the Emperor's vegetables, his mission to capture and kill her, and the unfortunate conclusion to this romp of a tale...

At first glance this looks very much like a young children's picture book, but it's much more suitable for those already in school. Rather than a verse per page as most pre-school books give you, this can run to four verses per page so requires some patience. The language used is also quite advanced, and whilst I think it's excellent to expose younger readers to more complex language it was just a bit too much for a small child. Particularly a small child like mine who likes to know what things mean so that by the time you've explained what quandary and coffers and fevered and platter all mean you've lost the plot a little in the story!

This makes it much better, however, for older children who can better enjoy the rich language being used, and more easily follow what's happening in the story. New readers aged 5 or 6 wouldn't be able to read it themselves, but would probably enjoy having it read to them, whilst those more confident in reading alone, perhaps around 8 or 9, would find it a challenging book to try, despite it's picture book appearance.

There are colourful illustrations throughout. They have a cartoon feel about them which seems a lot more 'grown-up' than most young children's books, and this again directs you that this is better aimed at school children rather than toddlers. Rhonda looks sufficiently mischievous (well, mean and scheming really!) and there's a lot going on in the pictures to look at and ponder as you read. From a personal point of view it's nice to see people who are Chinese in a picture book - my daughter is half Chinese and I find most of her favourite books, when not about animals, usually contain white characters, or perhaps occasionally the token appearance of someone of another ethnicity.

The ending was my favourite thing about this book. It's unexpected, rather shocking, and not entirely suitable for cat lovers! I won't spoil it by telling you what happens but you've probably guessed that Rhonda manages to escape, and what happens next made my little girl laugh out loud! I did feel, though, that the book ran a little long for my liking. I enjoy stories told in rhyme, but I felt a bit rhymed-out by the end of this one. However, my four year old did manage to sit for the entire tale and said, at the end, that she liked it (although it hasn't become something she requests again and again).

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: You might also enjoy The Magic Paintbrush by Julia Donaldson.

Buy Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chinese Calendar Tales: The Tale of Rhonda Rabbit by Sarah Brennan and Harry Harrison at Amazon.com.

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