Friday, April 22, 2011


Written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
$15.99, ages 3-6, 40 pages

How does a child grow to love the natural world? If you're Jane Goodall, it begins by hiding out in hen houses and laying your cheek against a tree.

In this tender tribute to the legendary anthropologist, Mutts creator McDonnell shows a girl born with wonder in her eyes and a passion for creatures big and small.

In those early years, Jane flitted about her yard with her stuffed monkey Jubilee, watching nature unfold and climbing trees. She'd see birds knit together nests and squirrels scamper in spirals around trees.

Jane read everything she could about the things she saw and the exotic place she imagined visiting, a far-off place known as Africa where real-life chimpanzees perched in branches just like she loved to do with Jubilee.

She was entranced by Tarzan of the Apes (imagining herself Tarzan's Jane), dreamed of being Dr. Doolittle and filled every inch of her scrapbooks with observations, sketches and quizzes for a nature club she formed with her sisters, The Alligator Society.

Jane was always wondering where and how things happened in her yard, one time sneaking into her grandma's chicken coop to watch a hen lay an egg, another time putting her ear to a tree to see is she could hear the sap flowing.

Sometimes she and Jubilee just lay on their backs in the grass, arms outstretched, soaking in the beauty and immensity of it all.

Then one day, Jane awoke to discover her dream of helping animals had come true -- she'd become a renowned anthropologist and a celebrated champion of living things.

McDonnell's spare story, charmingly illustrated in watercolor and pen, shows how a child who is encouraged to dwell in nature can gain a lifelong appreciation for its fragility and a yearning to protect it.

Among Goodall's greatest achievements: her fight to save our closest living relatives from extinction in the wild, the chimpanzees, her efforts to nurture conservation among children through her Roots & Shoots program and being named United Nations Messenger of Peace.

To learn more about Roots & Shoots, which celebrates this year its 20th anniversary, click here.

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