Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell is the true story of Dr. Jane Goodall, a famous primatologist, environmentalist, and humanitarian. The book centers around Jane as a child who loves to explore the world around her and who is especially curious about animals. Her curiosity pushes her to seek out explanations for natural phenomenons, whether it is through research or just by observation. She also has a stuffed animal named Jubilee, who is always with her on these adventures, and who is probably the source of inspiration for her dream of working with primates. Both night and day, Jane thinks about working with animals in Africa. Jane ends up living her dream, teaching us all that people truly can do the things they love.
This book won a Caldecott Honor, and I can definitely see why. The illustrations, although simple, are vibrant and unique. There are pictures blended into the page with the text and could be easily missed if one was not paying close attention. This gives a unique feel to the book and makes the story more interesting. McDonnell also uses different forms of media in this book: he uses watercolors, sketches, and a real photograph to add to the authenticity of this book. Although the story and illustrations are simple and seem targeted towards a younger audience, I think that this book also has a serious tone to it and could be read with older kids as well. The lesson is valuable to people of all ages, and the story is engaging for everyone.
Books like Me…Jane would be great to use in the classroom as an introduction for teaching about a person or biographies. This makes “important” people like Jane Goodall more personable for students, which I think is useful in showing students that they too can go on to do great things that they love. Overall, I think this book is both engaging and valuable, and students should be exposed to this book for its story, the pictures, and the inspiring ending that everyone can benefit from.