Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Jane loves animals. She has a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee who is her constant companion. She watches as the squirrels run around the trees outside. She learns all about birds, spiders, and plants. She’s very curious about nature and respects the natural world. Jane loves to dream about one day living in Africa, living with and studying the animals around her. And Jane, who grows up to be Dr. Jane Goodall, will one day watch her dreams come true.

I can’t remember ever being so impressed with the art direction of a book. It’s not just the illustrations, which are lovely. It’s how the book is put together. The browns and greens and muted colours evoke ideas of the natural world. The way that Jane’s world slowly morphs from her backyard into Africa is reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are. The cover cleverly has Jane’s picture included in the middle of a jungle scene, but she’s not actually in the jungle – it’s like a picture of her has been affixed to the background, as if she’s wishing herself there. And, the final picture on the last page of the book fits in so well that rather than being jarring (which it had the potential to be), I can’t think of a better way for this book to end. Some of Jane Goodall’s own childhood drawings and writings are included, and the level of detail and the precision in the drawings is remarkable. Rounding out the visuals are older prints of animals and wildlife similar to what Jane Goodall might have seen when she was growing up. The text, while taking a backseat to the illustration, is also strong. Do not miss this book.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:

With Love by Jane Goodall
The Watcher by Jeanette Winter
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Jane Goodall: A Twentieth Century Life by Sudipta Barhan-Quallen
My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

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