Hit Spring Ox is one of the titles in Snowflake Books' series: Animal Signs. Adapted from ancient Chinese legends, all based around the mythical Race of the Animals, these stories are well-known and loved by all Chinese children; the books thus provide an informal and accessible means of introducing Western children to an important aspect of Chinese life and culture in the home, and of introducing diversity studies into education. Each book tells the story of one of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac signs, which are also used as the names of the years in the Chinese calendar. In Hit Spring Ox, Ox enters for the legendary Race of Animals and seems very likely to win, but he kindly gives a lift to Mouse who tricks him into second place. Ox, however, is good natured and forgiving. The Jade Emperor, mythical ruler of heaven, honours Ox with his own star in the sky. Ox takes pity on the humans on earth who are always hungry and don't know how to grow food properly, while rice is reserved only for heaven as the 'food of the gods'. Disobeying the Emperor, Ox shows humans how to plow and sow rice.When the Rain God is sent to drag Ox back to the heavens, Ox makes the supreme sacrifice of his life to give rice and young oxen to the people on earth. As with all Chinese traditional animal stories, their deceptive simplicity is a vehicle for displaying the richness and variety of human character and feeling; Chinese believe the animal year of a person's birth influences character; the animals in these legends display to some extent their respective zodiac qualities, in this case sympathy, kindness and quiet courage for a just cause. The myth may also be seen as a folk memory of the transition from a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one, and the patient oxen still plough the rice fields in China.This is an entirely new version of the old legend, re-written in simple English, suitable for reading to or by young children, or by older children learning Mandarin. The complete text is bi-lingual with colour coded key words and a Mandarin-English vocabulary. The parallel text in Pinyin, using the Roman alphabet, enables readers to pronounce the Chinese characters. Purchase of the book allows access to an animated e-book with audio in English and/or Chinese.Production quality is high, with good quality paper and colour, original full colour illustrations by Chinese artists on every page and traditional binding.