Five Colour Dog is one of the titles in Snowflake Books' series: Animal Signs.
Adapted from ancient Chinese legends, all based around the mythical Race of the Animal, 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.
Five Colour Dog is clearly a magic dog since the legend says he is not born in the usual way, but from a little worm which lives in a gourd covered by a plate; hence his story name of Plate-Gourd. The shepherd's wife realises he is too special to be a farm dog and encourages him to explore the wider world. Plate Gourd is naturally caring, brave and loyal and he risks his life to rescue the drunken Mountain King from a bush fire. Plate Gourd is badly wounded as he searches for magic herbs to cure the Princess Little Lotus as she is dying from a mystery disease. But, with the magic of the god of the mountain, the sincere tears of Little Lotus falling onto Plate Gourd heal him in turn, and he becomes a human being. Interestingly, legends of the ancient Yao and She mountain people in China say they are descended from a mythical dog called Panhu, meaning Plate-Gourd.
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 the combination of caring with courage and loyalty.
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, original full colour illustrations on every page and traditional binding