Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review: Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Me . . . Jane

Me...Jane published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in Apr 2011
Author/Illustrator: Patrick McDonnell

I received a review copy of this picture book from the publisher a while ago, and originally intended to feature it on Earth Day, but something stopped me. The book is beautiful, hardly a surprise given Patrick McDonnell's skill and experience. It shows Jane Goodall as a child and how her way of viewing the world led to her eventual inspirational work with chimpanzees.

Great stuff, and I have read a number of great reviews by people who are either huge fans of Dr. Goodall, or of Mr. McDonnell. The problem that I have with the book is that the audience it is aimed at doesn't know Ms. Goodall is or what she did, and the book really doesn't explain. In many ways, the best part of the book is the afterword which actually describes Dr. Goodall's passion and work.

All of the work is left to the parent or other adult reading to the child. Even the big reveal which shows the photograph of Dr. Jane Goodall does so without explanation or identification. I love to read picture books to kids, and love science and picture books which show science. I just wouldn't choose this one without preparing a clear explanation of who Jane Goodall is, a job which the author neglected to do in any form accessible to the audience.

Three stars out of five.

Buy 'Me . . . Jane' on


  1. How disappointing. Jane Goodall is one of my heroes. Maybe this would appeal more to grown-ups then.

  2. I saw this and thought it would be great for my granddaughter. I'm always looking for books that would appeal to her I'm-not-a-girly-girl side. Mmm, that's too bad that it didn't take advantage of educating it's audience. There is a fine line between subtle education and information dumping, especially in MG.

  3. Hmm, me thinks a good preface should fix that. I myself am a fan of Jane's and appreciate the review you've put together.

    But seriously... I think the content itself should be enough by itself. Since when is a book judged by its preface or lack thereof? Besides, when it's a children's book, it doesn't really need to go beyond the story, does it?

    Hmm, I haven't read the book, so I feel a tad silly commenting, but oh well.. Oh, and I thought the post-script was lovely and inspiring. ^_^