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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

Hours

  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Top of the Shelf: Me...Jane

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) With a few words and riveting ink and watercolor drawings, this small picture book tells the story of the childhood dream that led Dr. Jane Goodall to Africa to study chimpanzees. We see young Jane holding a stuffed chimpanzee in scenes based upon the scientist's childhood recollections. She loved reading Tarzan of the Apes. She snuck into a henhouse to patiently wait for the moment when a creature broke through a shell. Besides the expressive drawings, nineteeth century prints give a faint background to some pages, suggesting a bygone era when naturalists more often worked from outdoor observation, before our era in which the unseen underlies much scientific training. We also see sketches Jane made for a club she formed called "The Aligator Society." There's a beautiful rhythm within sentences and between the pages that emphasize close looking, wonder, and a connection between people and nature. I love the two-page spread where Jane lies in the grass delighting in the sky, watched by curious chickens. She climbs trees with un-awkward reverence. The story is of a child, though the book ends with a photograph of the ground-breaking scientist reaching for the hand of a chimpanzee. In addition to the useful afterword, I would have liked to see at least a page suggesting the years of work between a young girl's dreams and its realization, but it's a small quibble. Me...Jane is a charming introduction to a wise and great-hearted scientist, and, really, why shouldn't every child with a cherished stuffed chimpanzee become a primatologist, or at least find her own way to help save the world? Pick up a copy of Me...Jane and read more Top of the Shelf recommendations.

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