But soon the young Mrs. Harkness would inherit an expedition from her explorer husband: the hunt for a panda. She knew that bringing back a panda would be hard. Read more...
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But soon the young Mrs. Harkness would inherit an expedition from her explorer husband: the hunt for a panda. She knew that bringing back a panda would be hard. Impossible, even. But she intended to try.
So she went to China, where she found a guide, built traps, gathered supplies, and had explorers' clothes made--unheard of for a woman in those days. Then she set out up the Yangtze River and into the wilderness. What she discovered would awe America: an adorable baby panda she named Su Lin, which means "a little bit of something very cute."
With breathtaking illustrations from Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet, this little-known true story shares the tale of an adventurous woman who was bold and brave--and the unforgettable journey that helped shape American attitudes toward wildlife.
- ISBN-13: 9780375844485
- ISBN-10: 0375844481
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: March 2012
- Page Count: 40
- Reading Level: Ages 3-8
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-01-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Potter (Fritz Danced the Fandango) and Sweet (Balloons over Broadway) tell the little-known story of American fashion designer Ruth Harkness, who intrepidly trekked through China in 1936 to bring the first live panda back to the U.S. Engaging mixed-media illustrations set a quiet, sophisticated tone, perhaps a nod to Harkness’s socialite status (not explicitly mentioned, but hinted at in vignettes showing Harkness among well-attired friends). Sweet’s inspired collages brim with a sense of time and place: patterned and textured torn-paper backgrounds serve as canvases for several scenes, while one spread shows a small steamer journeying over faded maps and old postcards. With help, Harkness returns with a baby panda she names Su Lin. A chronology reveals that Su Lin dies of pneumonia after less than a year and a half in captivity; Harkness also dies young, but not before she revisits China and brings home a second panda, a mate for Su Lin (both pandas turned out to be male). However, the tale concludes on a positive note, celebrating one woman’s steadfast and pioneering spirit. Ages 5–8. Agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Mar.)