HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Biographies for Kids: Jane Goodall, Environmentalist and Humanitarian

Biographies for Kids: Jane Goodall, Environmentalist and Humanitarian

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: June 20, 2011

When executed with expertise, a well-written and illustrated biography can be just the book to hook young readers. This year, Jane Goodall, the famous British primatologist and conservationist, is the subject of two wonderful picture books: Me … Jane, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell; and The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps, Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. Environmentalist, primatologist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall makes for a wonderful role model—especially for girls. Both of these books, while showcasing Goodall’s brilliant and dedicated work with artistic differences, highlight how a childhood dream can become a reality.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

By Jeanette Winter

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Hardcover: 48 pages

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (April 5, 2011)

Source: Publisher

What to expect: Jane Goodall, Women primatologist, Chimpanzees, Tanzania, Biography

In The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With the Chimps, renowned picture book author Jeanette Winter, shows how the curiosity of a child, combined with patience and dedication, led Goodall down the fulfilling path of her dreams to work with and protect the animals of Africa—in particular, chimpanzees. Winter’s writing is factual and entertaining—great for reading aloud. Her colorful, folk-style illustrations truly create an amazing sense of wonder and curiosity. It is, perhaps, the author’s note that completes this well-rounded biography. Winter wrote:

“I wish that when I was a little girl, I could have read about someone like Jane Goodall—a brave woman who wasn’t afraid to do something that had never been done before. So now I’ve made this book for that little girl, who still speaks to me.”

Illustration by Jeanette Winter

Add this book to your collection: The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

Me . . . Jane

By Patrick McDonnell

Reading level: Ages 4-7

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011)

Source: Library

What to expect: Jane Goodall, Nature Studies

Me . . . Jane, by Patrick McDonnell, feels like an extract from a personal journal of Jane Goodall. Using photographs, stamps, animal engravings, and his signature illustrations, McDonnell has intertwined drawings and sketches from Jane Goodall, herself, to create an authentic experience that is part picture book, part scrapbook. The focus is on Goodall’s childhood and her stuffed toy companion, a chimp named Jubilee. While this is not a chronological telling of Goodall’s life, it is an inspiring story of real childhood dreams that lead to a dedicated life of environmental and humanitarian efforts. A personal note and sketch from Goodall finish the book:

“Each one of us makes a difference. We cannot live through a single day without making an impact on the world around us—and we have a choice to what sort of difference we make.”

Illustration by Patrick McDonnell

Add this book to your collection: Me . . . Jane

To learn more about Jane Goodall, visit: www.janegoodall.org

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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