In 1934, Ruth Harkness had never seen a panda bear. Not many people in the world had.
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.
About the Author
ALICIA POTTER is also the author of Fritz Danced the Fandango, which won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award. When not creating tales inspired by her travels and her hometown by the sea, Alicia works as a freelance journalist and children's book reviewer.
MELISSA SWEET is the Caldecott Honor artist of A River of Words by Jen Bryant, The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies, and The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra, amongst many others. Her work has received numerous honors, and reviewers have described her unique mixed-media illustrations as "exuberant," "outstanding," and "a creative delight."
A sweet nonfiction picture book about Ruth Harkness's quest to bring the first panda to the United States in 1936. I am a huge fan of Melissa Sweet's mixed media illustrations. Here, she uses Chinese characters, vintage postcards, and maps to great effect. Back matter includes a timeline and an author's note that points out that today we might question whether it was right to take a panda from China, but that before the advent of videos and the internet, the only way many people could learn about animals was to study them or visit them in zoos.