Reviews for Me... Jane

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #2
*Starred Review* Little Jane loves her stuffed animal, a chimpanzee named Jubilee, and carries him everywhere she goes. Mainly, they go outdoors, where they watch birds building their nests and squirrels chasing each other. Jane reads about animals in books and keeps a notebook of sketches, information, and puzzles. Feeling her kinship with all of nature, she often climbs her favorite tree and reads about another Jane, Tarzan's Jane. She dreams that one day she, too, will live in the African jungle and help the animals. And one day, she does. With the story's last page turn, the illustrations change from ink-and-watercolor scenes of Jane as a child, toting Jubilee, to a color photo of Jane Goodall as a young woman in Africa, extending her hand to a chimpanzee. Quietly told and expressively illustrated, the story of the child as a budding naturalist is charming on its own, but the photo on the last page opens it up through a well-chosen image that illuminates the connections between childhood dreams and adult reality. On two appended pages, "About Jane Goodall" describes her work, while "A Message from Jane" invites others to get involved. This remarkable picture book is one of the few that speaks, in a meaningful way, to all ages. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
McDonnell's inspirational book focuses on the great primatologist's formative years; young Jane, with her stuffed toy chimp, studies nature wherever and however she can. Homey, earth-toned pen and watercolor pictures, simple and intimate, are accented with casually arrayed stamped motifs and some of Goodall's childhood drawings. A note about Goodall's current projects and "A Message from Jane" are appended. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2
Where Jeanette Winter's The Watcher (rev. p. 144) devotes just five of its forty-eight pages to Jane Goodall's childhood, Me...Jane devotes all but two spreads to the great primatologist's formative years. And despite its rather cheeky title (justified by the young Jane's devotion to Edgar Rice Burroughs), McDonnell's book is the more inspirational. His Jane, along with her stuffed toy chimp Jubilee, studies nature wherever and however she can; as with Winter's book, Jane's observation of a hen laying an egg is highlighted as a key moment. But study is only part of the picture, as Jane rejoices in the simple activity of just being outdoors: "It was a magical world full of joy and wonder, and Jane felt very much a part of it." Jane dreams of traveling to Africa and, in a wonderful sequence of page turns, goes to sleep [page turn], wakes up an adult in her tent [page turn], and is living her "dream come true." And here McDonnell's homey, earth-toned pen and watercolor pictures give way to that most famous of all Goodall photographs, where the young scientist and an even younger chimp reach across their worlds to touch hands. The simple and intimate paintings are accented with casually arrayed stamped motifs and some of Goodall's childhood drawings; a note about Goodall's current projects and "A Message from Jane" are appended. roger Sutton Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #1
Little Jane Goodall and Jubilee (her toy chimpanzee) ramble outside their English country home observing everyday animal miracles and dreaming of a life in Africa, "living with, / and helping, / all animals." Readers familiar with the groundbreaking primatologist will love seeing her as a conventional, buttoned-up child, wearing a plaid skirt, classic bob and hair clip as she squats in a coop to watch a chicken drop an egg. McDonnell's simple ink-and-watercolor illustrations appear as sunny, amorphous panels in ample white space. Purposeful black lines provide specificity with small suggestive strokes—a tiny apostrophic smile relays Jane's complete contentment sprawled in grass. Opposite pages offer groupings of faint, intricate stamps that correspond with young Jane's early outdoor experiences and engage readers with their fine details. The playful interplay among stamps, cartoonish drawings and real photographs of Jane reminds readers of a child's hodgepodge journal—one like Jane's, which appears as a double-page spread showing her animal studies, charts, games and doodles. Children will appreciate McDonnell's original format and take heart that interests logged in their own diaries might turn into lifelong passions. Backmatter includes a pithy biography, additional photographs and a letter and drawing from Jane herself—children will thrill at the connection. (Picture book/biography. 2-10) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #4

In this picture book biography, McDonnell (Wag!) examines Goodall's very English childhood and her unexpected wish--nurtured by early exposure to Tarzan--to live and work in Africa. On the left, earnest text appears on cream-colored paper embellished with delicate vintage images of trees and animals. On the right, by contrast, McDonnell's winsome ink and watercolor drawings come across as sweetly goofy. Jane spends most of her time sitting quietly, watching living things. "One day," McDonnell writes, "curious Jane wondered where eggs came from. So she and Jubilee snuck into Grandma Nutt's chicken coop... hid beneath some straw, stayed very still... and observed the miracle." (The hen looks just as surprised as Jane.) Best of all is a spread that shows Jane fantasizing living like Tarzan's Jane in Africa; she swings on a vine through the jungle, dressed in a sensible cardigan and a tartan skirt. Back matter fills in readers about Goodall's accomplishments as an adult; McDonnell's concentration on her childhood fantasies carries a strong message to readers that their own dreams--even the wildly improbable ones--may be realizable, too. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 April

PreS-Gr 2--In this tender homage to the famous primatologist, McDonnell gives readers a peek into Jane Goodall's formative years. Even as a young child she had an abiding love of the natural world and took every opportunity to study and enjoy the plants and animals around her. "It was a magical world full of joy and wonder, and Jane felt very much a part of it." Her constant companion, whether climbing her favorite tree or exploring her grandmother's chicken coop, was her stuffed chimpanzee, Jubilee. Her fascination with Africa was presaged by the drawings and puzzles she made as a child for her club, the "Alligator Society," as well as her fondness for Tarzan of the Apes. Her dream of going there to live with the animals and write about them took hold when she was 10 and the fact that she has devoted her life to that mission is a testament to her dedication and an inspiration for young dreamers everywhere. The artist's engaging, almost naive cartoons, done in India ink and watercolor, set the perfect tone. As the girl reads and learns more about Africa, the drawings become more fanciful with a giraffe and elephant appearing in the English countryside, and Jane and Jubilee swinging on vines through the trees. These charming images are complemented throughout with 19th- and early-20th-century engravings and photos of Goodall with her beloved chimps. The package is an appealing and satisfying introduction to a well-known scientist and activist. Concluding notes give more information about her and her life's work.--Luann Toth, School Library Journal

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