Me... JaneLittle Jane carries her stuffed chimpanzee Jubilee around with her everywhere - reading stories, exploring outside, climbing trees. Right from the beginning, our students could relate to having a favorite stuffed animal. McDonnell frames this story about the childhood of Jane Goodall, the famous animal behavior scientist, in a way that draws children into connecting with Jane's life. Jane loves exploring the outdoors - and so she spends most of her time either watching animals and plants outside or writing in her journal about facts she's discovered. Our students could easily imagine keeping a journal with questions and observations about the animals around them.
by Patrick McDonnell
NY: Little, Brown, 2011
ages 4 - 8
available from your local library, favorite bookstore, or on Amazon
2011 Cybils nominee & finalist
winner of the 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award
The artwork in this picture book is soft and understated, but with a charming touch. Our students noticed the contrast between the detailed stamps on one side of each spread and the pen and watercolor illustrations on the other side. They liked the way this made them think of real life animals with the intricate engravings, while the illustrations emphasized the child-like quality of the story. My favorite moment of the day was when Anthony raised his hand and said, "I'm making a connection to another book. This reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are." We were looking at the end of the story, when Jane imagines being in the jungles of Africa, swinging from vine to vine with Jubilee swinging behind her. Other students immediately began making connections to the power of imagination that Sendak celebrated in Where the Wild Things Are. It was a wonderful moment that I will always treasure.
The pacing and page turns are masterfully controlled - please read this aloud to your children and ask what they're noticing at each page. The final few turns of the page took our breaths away, in that quiet "ohhhh" type of moment as you realize the scientist that Jane Goodall grew up to be.
This isn't a book a book that will grab you and demand your attention. But if you have a quiet moment, it will plant a seed that may bloom if you give it some time. For another wonderful review, head over to Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac.
In the end, as we compared Grandpa Green, Blue Chicken and Me... Jane, students each responded differently. I asked them to tell me which book had the best illustrations, since the Caldecott is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished picture book. The majority chose Blue Chicken, because they loved the humor in the story and the creative use of color. Others liked Grandpa Green for the detailed illustrations and way it sparked their imaginations. And others definitely chose Me... Jane, for its inspiring story and gentle artwork.
Each year, the Caldecott Committee reviews hundreds and hundreds of picture books - all published in America during that year. The committee meets during the American Library Association's midwinter meeting to discuss the books they find most distinguished, and decide upon a winner. My students and I are very excited to see which book they choose to award the 2012 Caldecott Medal. If you want to watch the announcements live on Monday morning, head over to the ALA site here.
The review copy came from our school library collection. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.
Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books