MMGM spotlight on The Year of the Panda, and a pic of me with my agent!

Before diving into today’s spotlight, I have a pic to share.  A very important pic, commemorating a momentous occasion–as you can probably tell from the huge grin stretching across my face!

Z and Christa Carolinas Sep 2014

That’s me on the right, trying not to tower over her, and that’s my agent, Christa Heschke, on the left.  We were told to say ‘NinChicks’ and I think we’re actually both trying not to laugh!  I found Christa just as lovely in person as I’ve found her in our phone calls and emails over the last year plus, and was thrilled to finally give her the hug she’s been owed!  Here’s to many more meetings. 🙂

And now for the spotlight–a lovely little book called The Year of the Panda, that was another one of my random library finds.  Written by Miriam Schlein, the story is based loosely on real events and told from the pov of young Lu Yi, the son of a farmer in modern day China.

The year of the Panda cover

His adventure begins when the farmers are approached by the government, and warned of possible problems with incursions from the Giant Panda coming down from the mountains.  Normally the Daxiong Mao would never come so low, but a cyclical shortage of their staple, bamboo, forces them to forage on the farms, looking for food.

Conflict is inevitable, and soon Lu Yi is devastated to find a dead Giant Panda.  However, her small cub is still alive, and the boy takes it home and successfully cares for it using goat’s milk and his own body heat as necessary.  What follows is the sweet story of the baby panda’s eventually becoming a part of a panda rescue, and Lu Yi’s life changing course as a result.

For someone like me, who grew up volunteering for the wildlife resources and actively engaged in animal care, this book was a true delight and something of a vicarious thrill.  The story also opens a window into a part of modern China that many kids (and readers) are unfamiliar with, while providing great insights into ecology and conservation.  However, it doesn’t ever lose its grip on being first and foremost a story, and is told in a highly engaging style.  Some kids will need to have the book assigned in order to read it, but plenty will find it on their own, and I think both will enjoy the read.

Now let’s see what Apricot-kitty has to say:

Apricot Headshot opinion looking down“That boy was pretty smart, figuring out how to feed the baby panda straight from his goats’ milk.  But why would a creature as mysterious and portentous as the Daxiong Mao grow up to eat bamboo?  Seriously, out of all the stuff a big panda could eat, it chooses stiff stalks of pale green plant fiber?”



Me thinks that was the perspective of a carnivore…though I can’t say that bamboo sounds particularly appetizing to me, either!  What’s incredible is how big and beautiful pandas get on such a diet!  Something I suppose I should keep in mind the next time I’m eating a salad. 😉

For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday spotlights, reviews, interviews and giveaways, stop by Shannon Messenger’s blog, and happy reading!


11 comments to MMGM spotlight on The Year of the Panda, and a pic of me with my agent!

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