Me … Jane

A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book

Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

This is a great book in so many ways; to describe it as a picture book about Jane Goodall (which it is) seems too limiting, since it functions and succeeds on so many levels. First, it is an excellent narrative picture book. Second, it provides an inspiring but subtle example of how to tenaciously follow through on your ideas and dreams. Third, it illustrates how to be observant and learn things about the natural world, or how to be a budding scientist (science curriculum tie-in). Fourth, it is a sort of biography that children will be able to readily identify with because it depicts her almost exclusively as a child, and shows how her childhood passions and interests shaped her adult life and career.

The text is simple and direct, the pacing is impeccable, the illustrations are engaging and subtle, and the inclusion of the vintage natural history engravings and Jane’s own childhood drawings in the background of the text pages is an excellent design choice that adds so much texture and context to the book. The switch from illustration to photograph on the final page is jaw-dropping in its effect, bringing home the message that this is a real story. The one-page biography of Goodall is an extremely helpful bonus, because although this book would work even for readers/listeners who have never heard of her before, it is good nonetheless to have the easy opportunity to learn more about her work, as it provides more context to the story.

I don’t think this book could really be any better than it is. I regard this as an essential purchase for elementary school libraries.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Granite Library Media Program
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades K-4

Me…Jane
Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Little, Brown and Co.
48 pages
Release Date: April 5, 2011
ISBN: 9780316045469 (hardcover)

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1 thought on “Me … Jane”

  1. Andrea Van Wagoner

    I’ve been looking at this book for the library. At first I thought we have enough Jane Goodall books. However the more I look the more I’m convinced it would be a great addition, even a must have.

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