Jane Goodall has had a lovely life. From her childhood love of the outdoors to the chance day she contacted famed scientist Louis Leakey, she always knew what she wanted to do: go to Africa and work to help animals. In her life, Goodall has been many things, including an activist for the environment and a UN Ambassador of Peace; however she is most known for her lengthy career working with chimpanzees. In 2011, two books were created that help us to explore Jane's life from its roots to the present.
The first, Patrick McDonnell's Me...Jane, celebrates Goodall's early life. Through cute illustrations and a few real-life photographs, we see Jane spending time outdoors as a youngster, keeping notes and diagrams of plants and animals. We see her play with her stuffed animal chimpanzee, Jubilee, the reason she first became interested in working with chimpanzees. An ALA notable children's book, Me...Jane tells a wonderful little story of a girl with big dreams who later grew up to achieve them. Also features a biography and a message from Goodall herself.
Jeanette Winter's The Watcher is a great companion book to go along with Me...Jane. While The Watcher does begin in Goodall's childhood, Winter's story mostly focuses on Goodall's life in Tanzania where she lived and worked in the Gombe forest, taking rich notes on the lives of chimpanzees. Both books are great introductions to the inspiring story of a woman who has made an impact on our world and our environment.
Me...Jane is recommended for preschool through second grade. The Watcher is recommended for grades 1-3, but both make for great read-aloud books featuring lush outdoor scenes - the perfect warm-up in the cold winter months!
- Guest Review by Jessica Grabert, MLS Candidate at IU School of Library and Information Science