It's hard to imagine a world where hardly anyone knows what a
panda bear looks like. They inhabit out zoos and our imaginations.
Their sweet, round faces adorn logos. Our children sleep with toy
ones in bed. But that was the world of 1934, the year in which Alicia
Potter's Nrs. Harkness and the Panda is set.
Ruth Harkness' husband had set off to capture a live panda in
the mountains of China and bring it to the United States. Women were
considered too "dainty" for that kind of expedition. She was left at
When Mrs. Harkness got word of her husband's death she decided
to carry on his work. Her properly horified friends did their best to
talk her out of that crazy idea. How did she hope to succeed on a
quest that killed her experienced (and male) husband? Fortunately she
chose to ignore them and the many other naysayers she encountered
along the way.
Here's to a wonderfully empowering book to inspire girls and
women of all ages to embark on quests!
On a personal note, now that my younger daughter has a retail job I'm
reusing a skill I acquired in the distant past of my childhood:
A great big shout out goes out to people who don't let their friends
and society talk them out of "crazy" ideas. This includes me. I
didn't let mine dissuade me from running again after losing my first
two school board elections. Look where I am today.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod