Picture Book Review: Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

 

Title: Me…Jane

Author: Patrick McDonnell

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0316045469

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals," until one day she finds that her dream has come true.

One of the world’s most inspiring women, Dr. Jane Goodall is a renowned humanitarian, conservationist, animal activist, environmentalist, and United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 1977 she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), a global nonprofit organization that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.

With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, McDonnell makes this very true story accessible for the very young–and young at heart.

Review:

Me…Jane caught my attention for two reasons.  First, it is illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, and I love his Mutts series.  Second, it is about Jane Goodall, and she’s a woman whom I admire very much.  She proved that women could conduct meticulous research in difficult conditions, and she made many startling discoveries while observing chimpanzees in Tanzania.  When I was in high school, I wanted to be like Jane Goodall, until I figured out that the bugs in the jungle were the size of soccer balls. 

Told with charming illustrations, Me…Jane follows the title character as she and her stuffed chimp explore the environment around her home.  Always fascinated with the outside world, Jane studied her backyard, taking detailed notes and making drawings of her observations.  I’m impressed by how hard she worked at cataloging the flora and fauna around her, perfecting skills that would become so important later in her life.  I love the theme of this picture book, too, and think it is an important one for kids to constantly be exposed to.  Everyone has dreams, and everyone has the ability to make them come true, if they are willing to work hard enough.

The visuals are delightful and capture Jane’s sense of adventure and wonder as she explores the world around her.  To compliment the simple, yet expressive illustrations, the narrative is sparse, but the prose carefully emphasizes the importance of following your dreams.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher