later achievements…


Two new picture books, “Me . . . Jane” and “The Watcher,” help fill the gap, and both, wisely, connect Jane Goodall’s childhood to her later achievements.

Lesson / Koan : Observe often.

Even as a young girl, Goodall dreamed she would one day travel to Africa and become a naturalist   —

not an unusual childhood fantasy…or an idea about a personal utopia.

Jane Goodall living among the chimpanzees in “The Watcher”.

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The qualities of patience and observation she displayed as a child serve her well as a primatologist.

Me . . . Jane,” by Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the comic strip “Mutts”) takes the approach with cooperation of Goodall, and makes no attempt to catalog the arc of her career. Instead, he writes about her childhood, which was spent in the company of a stuffed toy chimp named Jubilee and books like “The Story of Doctor Dolittle” and “Tarzan of the Apes.

With engravings of animals and natural artifacts stamped in soft colors and McDonnell’s simple line and wash drawings, “Me . . . Jane” evokes the charming journals of a child naturalist. Some of Goodall’s own sketches and drawings are included, and they feel at home here. McDonnell’s skill as a cartoonist enables him to express Goodall’s joy, wonder and satisfaction with a simple stroke of the pen.

“Me . . . Jane” ends with an illustration of Goodall falling asleep next to Jubilee “to awake one day . . . to her dream come true.” A moving photograph shows the adult Goodall reaching out to a baby chimpanzee, which is reaching back to her.

A Video Interview with the Authors
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NOTE :

Jane Goodall c. 1964 in Tanzania.

When you consider Jane Goodall’s happy British childhood, largely spent outdoors — earthworms tucked beneath her pillow at night — and her adult life as the world’s preeminent authority on chimpanzees and an influential conservationist, you can’t help wondering: why haven’t there been more biographies of Goodall for young readers?var 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