Author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell, creator of the MUTTS comic strip, has a wonderful new book about the early years of Jane Goodall. Biographical picture books are a tricky business to pull off, but McDonnell nails it.
Me…Jane tells the true-life story of Goodall as an inquisitive young girl with a passion for the outdoors and a dream at the age of ten to travel to Africa, live with the animals, and write about them. The book follows young Jane and her stuffed animal chimpanzee, Jubilee, clambering up her favorite tree, observing the habits of squirrels, hiding in her Grandma Nutt's chicken coop to learn where eggs come from, reading her favorite book Tarzan of the Apes, and ultimately waking one day to her dream of living in Africa come true.
McDonnell handles this mini biography superbly, in both tone and artwork. His simple, but expressive India ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the curiosity and wonder kids have regarding the natural world. And Goodall's story serves as great encouragement to follow childhood dreams.
Featuring drawings done by Goodall as a child, and ending with an actual photograph of her as an adult will give kids pause and the realization that this is more than just a simple picture book, but the story of a real person.
(Images: Ben Partridge)