Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell is one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2011.
This picture book takes anecdotes from Jane Goodall's autobiography to illustrate her childhood. Young Jane's interests and strengths are shown naturally progressing into her career as anthropologist studying chimpanzees. Rather than emphasizing her work, this is all about how Jane was allowed to play at what she found fun and managed to turn that into something she could do for the rest of her life. The dreamy illustrations have a cute comic style. (McDonnell is the creator of the popular Mutts comic strip.) The jungle simply springs up around Jane's suburban home, and the scenes of her swinging on vines in her plaid skirt epitomize a childlike playfulness. The scientific diagrams and photorealism that accompanies the text pages add a great atmosphere beyond that of the formulaic picture book. At the conclusion of the story, a more straightforward biography of Goodall is included for older kids.
Me...Jane is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and retails for $15.99 (hardcover). I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes. You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!