Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mrs. Harkness & the Panda

So, I'm gonna talk about a non-fiction story that I think is very cool today! VERY COOL! It's a girl power, you can do it, against all odds kind of story! (And the best part-- its real-- I love that!!)

It's called Mrs. Harkness and the Panda, written by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  Let me just give you the scoop. In 1934 Ruth Harkness' husband, William, set out on an expedition to China to find a real life panda. Ruth wanted to join him, but her hopes were met with disapproval-- an expedition to China was no place for a woman. So, Mr. Harkness went alone.
However, after several months, Ruth received word that her husband had passed away.  Rather than letting the search for a panda end, Ruth was determined to pick up where William left off.  With no one to believe in her, and not even knowing what to expect herself, she set out.
In China she met more naysayers-- but finally came across someone who agreed to help.  Thus began the preparations and packing and trekking across China. In what I can only imagine as an epic quest through snow covered bamboo forests, they searched and searched. And just when they thought it they would fail, they found a baby panda!
It's amazing really! This story should be made into a movie! I love that it has been printed in picture book form!  It's so inspiring!! And as you can see, the art in the book has a lovely sort of field journal feel to it. It's wonderful!

Happy real reading!!
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PS- Ruth Harkness actual wrote her own memior of the journal in 1938 (The Lady and the Panda) and while I'm not sure that's still in print, you can read a version by Vick Croke.

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