by Patrick McDonnell
2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
1. Are the illustrations appealing?
A mix of styles that create a cohesive aesthetic, the artwork is a blend of adorable illustrations by Patrick McDonnell, turn of the century-style illustrations of animals in their natural environments, and stamps like the ones young Jane Goodall might have used to decorate her own artwork. The result is irresistibly compelling, making the reader feel like she has a glimpse into little Jane's world - both real and imagined. There are also some photographs of Jane Goodall as a child with her play chimp, Jubilee, and with a real chimp as a young woman. One of these photos is so beautiful that I defy you to look at it without glistening eyes.
2. How does the story sound when read aloud?
The prose is simple and still, perfectly matching the mood of the illustrations to create a happy, warm, and safe world for Jane, Jubilee, and the reader to explore together.
3. Do either the story or illustrations invite interaction?
Included among the illustrations are some nature puzzles and riddles that Jane Goodall authored and illustrated as a child as part of her Alligator Society. Finding the solutions to young Jane's brain teasers and studying some of her early notes as a naturalist gives the reader a true sense of kinship with the scientist and the girl she was. Also, as with any good picture book, the joyful illustrations are essential to the story - the art and prose working together to craft the narrative.
4. Are there any female characters?
This is a wonderful story for girls of any age - and for any child who dreams of doing something unconventional. That Jane Goodall aspired to be an explorer and a scientist as a young girl and then became just that (even though there must have been lots of people telling her that she couldn't) will inspire readers to invest real time and passion into their hobbies and to set out on adventures large and small. And to answer the question asked -yes, Jane Goodall is a woman. It is left to the reader to assign any gender to Jubilee.
5. Is it edible?
As much as Funny Bear would love to give these adorable illustrations a loving lick, chewing on this beautiful book is currently forbidden in our house. No board book version is currently available.
In Funny Bear's estimation: This is a wonderful book. I do so want to pick the illustrations right up off the page. I listen enrapt.
My final say: This is a beautiful book for any library.