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Me…Jane | Class #4, 2015

Me...JaneAs picture book biographies go, this is one of the more irreverent ones. What did you make of it?

What about the visual mix: McDonnell’s cartoon-style art, vintage stamps, Goodall’s childhood drawings, and photos? The year this was published, we had lots of discussion pro and con about the final photograph and the book’s editor actually responded in one of the comments. You can read that post here.

Would you share this book with children? What ages? I’d also love to hear from anyone who HAS shared this book.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Lindsey Bailey says:

    I loved everything about this book. It felt like a childhood adventure to me – a mixed bag of cartoonish illustrations, loose collected items, stamps, scribbled notes – very much the feel of the explorer’s journal I imagined having as a child. I think the photograph at the end of the book was particularly effective – it helped me as the reader to imagine the transition from the wishes and fantasies of childhood into something tangible – a sort of message that dreams can become reality. I found it quite powerful.

  2. I liked this book very much too! As a child, I always felt that biographies were boring and tedious. However, I believe this book succeeds because it goes beyond being a mere biography – it feels inspirational and deeply personal, and as Lindsey mentioned, sends a strong message about dreams turning into reality. I love how the ornamental engravings are presented opposite the cute cartoon-like illustrations (e.g. real biographical sketch of squirrel versus cartoon squirrel), creating a juxtaposition of a grounded reality versus child-like fantasy.

    Having read the editor’s comments about the book, I agree that the choice of using a photo at the very end was powerful. I believe it wouldn’t have had the same effect if it was just another illustration or a sketch or trace of the photo. I also appreciated the childhood drawings and puzzles. I think children will definitely be able to identify with this book and enjoy the magical journey of dreams becoming reality.

  3. Geri Low says:

    I agree with Lindsey and Gek. As a child, I never really enjoyed non-fiction books because they were usually presented in a very dry, scientific and factual manner. This book however had a simple storyline running through it that was engaging, informational and relevant. This was done through the illustrations that depicted the story, and through decorative elements such as the scientific engravings that was printed on every other page. I liked that the story was of Jane Goodall’s childhood as it would help children to understand and aspire, though I did think the ending with an adult photo of her was slightly abrupt. The photo did make an impact because it makes the reader realize that her story is real but it takes a split second to process that sudden shift. Perhaps it would have been better if there was a photo of her in her childhood?

  4. Annie Thomas says:

    I loved this book. One of my favorites we have read thus far. I thought that drawing were warm and inviting and so friendly. I would absolutely share this book with children, because, as many people pointed out, they are able to see that dreams can become a reality. The photo at the end of the book was surprising and a nice ending to the story. I think this would allow for a lot of discussion and spark the imagination of the children.

  5. Samantha Song says:

    Like everyone else, I really enjoyed this book for many of the reasons mentioned above. I think this is a wonderful example of a non-fiction text made accessible to younger readers. It is engaging in illustration (also reminds me of a specific comic artist but I can’t seem to place it) and simple in text. Although it is non-fiction, it feels very much like a story book. I can imagine readers of various ages being pulled into the story because it is told in a relatable way. Many kids grow up carrying around a stuffed animal and explore the world around them with a sense of curiosity and wonderment. Jane developed her passion and interest into a life-long journey for herself, which is not only inspiring, but a great launching point for further conversations about Jane as an adult and how we can each cultivate our own passions. There is a lot of room for text to world and text to self connections.

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