This is beautiful and delightful book. It does not aim to be definitive, but its loveliness makes it an excellent introductory gift.
It begins with a short overview of Chinese astrology in which we learn that it was responsible for some of China's famous female infanticide. Then there is a chapter (of about twelve or thirteen pages) for each of the twelve animal signs. The chapters on the signs begin with a list of a dozen attributes of that sign: direction, element, Western sign, color, flower fragrance, tree, etc. Some of this is rare to find: Palm is the tree for the Snake; Rose is the flower for the Dragon. Next is a paragraph telling what to expect during that year. Then comes a lengthy section about the personality of that sign. Following that are sections about the five elements and the particular animal sign and some very interesting information about the actual hour of birth (or more accurately, the two-hour period.) Each chapter ends with a forecast of what that sign should expect during each of the years in the twelve-year cycle, and a list of famous people belonging to that sign.
There is a peculiar problem (in this book) in that the signs are classified as positive or negative, but in the first chapter we are introduced to the yin/yang concept. Nowhere in the entire book is it explained that yin is negative and yang is positive -- an unfortunate oversight.
Conari Press, Berkeley, CA, www.conari.com, (800) 685-9595, 1-57324-179-2, 175 pages, drawings, hardback, $14.95