Patrick McDonnell's Me...Jane (Goodall)
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Scientist as a child: Jane Goodall picture book biography
When I saw a list of awards this book had won, I felt like a little bit less of a dork for having tears in my eyes after finishing it....
Me...Jane is the story of Jane Goodall as a child, carrying around a stuffed toy chimpanzee as she explored the natural world around her home with a scientific eye.
Can you say, "Meant to be"?
Jane watched birds making nests, spiders spinning webs and even a hen laying her eggs. She sought knowledge, reading books about the plants and creatures around her, and in other places as well...
In an era in which the apt term Nature Deficit Disorder has been coined and come into vogue (from Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods, I can't imagine a better book to convey to children (particularly girls) the value of simply going outside, exploring and finding fascination in the natural world.
Exploring is a wonderful thing to do in the moment, and this book makes clear that there's a payoff as well...
You can become Jane Goodall! (Or at least someone like her.)
Author-illustrator Patrick McDonnell had a wealth of source material to work with in writing, illustrating and compiling a picture book that is as much collage as narrative.
There's a photo of baby Jane with her chimp, childhood drawings by Ms. Goodall herself (clearly using the scientific method to assimilate all the information from her observations and readings), a photo of Jane in Gombe, Africa, reaching out to a young chimp, and even a playful sketch by Ms. Goodall from Gombe, in which she depicts a chimp reading in a tent while she herself nests in a tree above.
Sweet, inspiring...the heart and soul of the great Jane Goodall seem fully captured in the wonderful Me... Jane.
Webmaster's note: The Eagle and the Wren is a touching children's book written by Goodall herself. Read our review.
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