In this picture book biography, McDonnell (Wag!) examines Goodall's very English childhood and her unexpected wish—nurtured by early exposure to Tarzan—to live and work in Africa. On the left, earnest text appears on cream-colored paper embellished with delicate vintage images of trees and animals. On the right, by contrast, McDonnell's winsome ink and watercolor drawings come across as sweetly goofy. Jane spends most of her time sitting quietly, watching living things. "One day," McDonnell writes, "curious Jane wondered where eggs came from. So she and Jubilee [her beloved stuffed chimpanzee] snuck into Grandma Nutt's chicken coop... hid beneath some straw, stayed very still... and observed the miracle." (The hen looks just as surprised as Jane.) Best of all is a spread that shows Jane fantasizing living like Tarzan's Jane in Africa; she swings on a vine through the jungle, dressed in a sensible cardigan and a tartan skirt. Back matter fills in readers about Goodall's accomplishments as an adult; McDonnell's concentration on her childhood fantasies carries a strong message to readers that their own dreams—even the wildly improbable ones—may be realizable, too. Ages 3–6. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011 Release date: 04/01/2011 Genre: Children's
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