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.)
New York Times
"McDonnell's skill as a cartoonist enables him to express Goodall's joy, wonder and satisfaction with a simple stroke of the pen."
The Horn Book
"McDonnell's book is... inspirational."
From the Publisher
A 2012 Caldecott Honor Book
A Charlotte Zolotow Award Winner
A Horn Book Fanfare Book
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book
A New York Times Notable Children's Book
A Booklist Editor's Choice Book
A Kirkus Reviews Best BookA Kids' Indie Next List Book
A 2011 Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Outstanding Book
A University of Wisconsin-Madison CCBC 2012 Children's Choices Book
A Parents' Choice Silver Honor Book
A National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Winner
A Booklinks Lasting Connections Book
A 2014 Illinois Monarch Children's Choice Award Winner
A 2014 Iowa Goldfinch Book Award Winner"
This remarkable picture book is one of the few that speaks, in a meaningful way, to all ages."Booklist, starred review"
McDonnell's book is... inspirational."The Horn Book, starred review"
Children will appreciate McDonnell's original format and take heart that interests logged in their own diaries might turn into lifelong passions."Kirkus Reviews, starred review"
McDonnell's skill as a cartoonist enables him to express Goodall's joy, wonder and satisfaction with a simple stroke of the pen."New York Times"
[A] tender homage... engaging... an appealing and satisfying introduction to a well-known scientist and activist."School Library Journal"
McDonnell's concentration on [Goodall's] childhood fantasies carries a strong message to readers that their own dreamseven the wildly improbable onesmay be realizable, too."Publishers Weekly
starred review Booklist
"This remarkable picture book is one of the few that speaks, in a meaningful way, to all ages."
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In brief, simple, but expressive language McDonnell takes us back to the childhood of the primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall to see how her life studies of chimpanzees began with her cherished stuffed toy chimp. She loves exploring and learning about the outdoors and the creatures and plants there, "a magical world full of joy and wonder." She enjoys the stories of Tarzan of the Apes and another Jane who lived in the African jungles. Young Jane dreams of a life in Africa helping animals, and of course her dreams have come true. The author visualizes the story in minimal ink drawings and transparent watercolors, representing animals and plants in a child-like lighthearted style in scenes mainly on the right-hand pages. The very terse lines of text occupy the left pages, which also include sketches and reproductions from old books, images that relate to the text but are printed as if faded by age. They bring a sense of authenticity. On the last page a current photo of Goodall and a chimp are on the right, showing the fulfillment of her dream. Also included are further facts about Goodall, art notes, a note from her, and more photographs. Check the contrasting jacket and cover and the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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