Jul 21, 2011


Me . . . Jane

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Caldecott Honor 2012

     Little Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee that she adored. She also loved spending time outdoors and spending her time observing nature. "She watched birds making their nests, spiders spinning their webs, and squirrels chasing one another up and down trees." She enjoyed reading all she could about the animals and plants she saw outside, but more than anything she wanted to observe them in action: like when she hid behind some straw inside the chicken coop to watch the hen lay an egg.  She connected with nature by climbing trees and laying her "cheek against its trunk" to "feel the sap flowing beneath the bark.  Jane read books about the jungles of Africa and dreamed about life over there, "a life living with, and helping, all animals."  At night, she would lay in bed with Jubilee and dream about it all, "to awake one day...to her dream come true."
     Me . . . Jane tells the story of the girl who would grow to become the famous Dr. Jane Goodall, "the primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace."  The book's language and illustrations are beautiful.  It includes some original drawings from Dr. Goodall's notebooks and photographs of her childhood.  The moment that captivated me was the final page, when it goes from little Jane falling asleep with Jubilee to an image (photo) of an adult Dr. Goodall reaching to touch the fingertips of a chimpanzee.  The book also includes a letter from Jane as well as a short biographical piece.  It's a truly beautiful book.

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