Me… Jane, is an inspiring picture book by the celebrated cartoonist, author, and animal rights advocate Patrick McDonnell; here he chronicles the early life of pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall and tells the heartening story of how the seed planted by a childhood dream blossomed, under the generous beams of deep dedication, into the reality of a purposeful life.
McDonnell’s protagonist is not Jane Goodall the widely influential and wildly revered science and spirituality sage of science and the human spirit — one of a handful of people in history to have both the titles Dame and Doctor — but little Jane, the ten-year-old girl who decided that she was going to work with animals in Africa when she grew up and, despite her family’s poverty, despite living in an era when girls were not encouraged to live the life of science or adventure, despite nearly everyone telling her that it was impossible, turned her dream into reality.
With simple, enormously expressive illustrations and an eloquent economy of words, McDonnell — creator of the beloved MUTTS comic strip — begins at the very beginning: that fateful day when little Jane was given a stuffed monkey named Jubilee.
Jane and Jubilee became inseparable, and she shared with him everything she loved — especially the outdoors. Together, they watched the birds and the spiders and the squirrels fill the backyard with aliveness.That dream soon became an all-consuming desire not just to go to Africa but to live there, trying to understand the animals and help them.
Every night Jane tucked Jubilee into bed and fell asleep with that dream, until one day — and such is the genius of McDonnell’s elegantly simple message of the dreamer’s doggedness — she awakes in a tent in the Gombe, the seedbed of what would become a remarkable career and an extraordinary life of purpose.
Goodall herself — who founded the heartening youth-led learning and community action initiative Roots and Shoots— writes in the afterword:
We cannot live through a single day without making an impact on the world around us — and we have a choice as to what sort of difference we make… Children are motivated when they can see the positive results their hard work can have.