Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Celebrating Jane Goodall


I was pleasantly enchanted when two picture books about Jane Goodall, the acclaimed zoologist, were published in 2011. While their styles are different, each title is a charming representation of this amazing woman. It was delightful to pair these books and introduce them to our Fourth Grade students as part of my “People Who Make a Difference” unit.

Me Jane (Little Brown) by Patrick McDonnell is the simpler book of the two, as it describes Jane’s childhood in single sentences that are accompanied by ink and watercolor illustrations. Be sure to study McDonnell’s illustrations closely because he has integrated realistic, inked renderings from nature with the watercolors depicting Jane’s early years. The author included valuable biographical information and photographs of Jane Goodall in his book. Will our young readers recognize the reference to Tarzan movies in his title?

An equally engaging book is The Watcher (Schwartz & Wade) by Jeanette Winter. Her illustrations, in acrylics and pen, compliment the text that covers Goodall’s entire life. Winter includes more details about events in Jane’s childhood, and she chronicles her journey to Africa and study of the chimps. Here, too, there are references to Jane Goodall’s own books, My Life with the Chimpanzees and The Chimpanzees I Love.


When I shared these two books with the Fourth Graders, I also showed them the website for The Jane Goodall Institute. Their favorite video on her site is about Mambou, a baby chimp who was rescued by the scientists at her Institute.

Mambou from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment:

Skip to toolbar