We have a winner for the nonfiction picture book Cybils award! I was on the committe for nonfiction picture books and we all agreed that Mrs. Harkness and the Panda was our favorite. Take a look at the book and the other winners here. I loved this book and think you will, too.
Nonfiction Picture Books
Who could forget the endearing face of a panda bear like the one on the cover of Mrs. Harkness and the Panda? It is more difficult to remember, however, who brought the first panda bear to America. In 1934, when the story starts, only a few people even knew pandas existed. Mrs. Harkness, a young New York dress designer, seemed to be the least-likely person to go to far-off China to look for one. Yet when her husband dies during an attempt to find a panda, off she goes on the adventure of a lifetime to fulfill his quest.
Reading this book is an adventure of its own. It delves into China with rich colors, using actual Chinese writing on the paper in the background of the illustrations, photographs of Chinese coins, and even including some well-placed Chinese words. Each page and each reading reveals new discoveries.
The story of a young woman heading off into the unknown is one of bravery and perseverance that is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. Mrs. Harkness would be perfect to introduce a geography or history lesson about China. Although it is a biography, this book is also likely to stimulate conversations about animal conservation, particularly discussions about endangered animals and how our views of how to care for rare animals have changed. It is truly a memorable and inspiring book.
See a complete review at Wrapped in Foil.