Jul 12, 2015

Jane Goodall and Doyli: Making Dreams Come True

Earlier this spring I wrote about a young girl who is devoting herself to a project of the heart. 
Crick hollow Books, 2015

DOYLI TO THE RESCUE: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon by Cathleen Burnham is the first of a series of nonfiction photo profiles of young people who are making a difference in the world through individual actions. 
Hers is an appealing story, and one that could inspire young readers to identify and solve problems in their own neighborhoods or around the world. 

Little, Brown Books for young Readers
Perhaps the best known example of a child-activist-turned-adult-icon is Jane Goodall. There are any number of books about her life and commitment to chimpanzees and other primates. Of the many picture books about her, Patrick McDonnell's 2011 biography, Me...Jane is my personal favorite. 
It allows young readers (and those of us no longer young) to recognize the importance of fostering the interests of a young child. 
The apparent "obsession" of a child with dinosaurs, chimpanzees, frogs, or planets is so much more significant than providing a "wow" moment on a talk-show segment or FaceBook video. It may be the first steps in a lifetime of groundbreaking achievements.

National Geographic Kids, 2015
A recent release by National Geographic Kids has elevated McDonnell's introductory approach to Goodall's biography to new heights. UNTAMED: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey is a fascinating and accessible read. Silvey's text reads as compellingly as fiction, taking us inside the experiences of a young girl who was so fascinated by animal observation that she would disappear for hours to observe and report what she had learned from nature. The narrative of her life is well-researched and enriched by quotations, artifacts, and anecdotes.
The simplest experiences (reading Doctor Doolittle, her neighbor-dog Rusty, and a nature club she created as a child) each served as one of those child-like steps toward her eventual life path. 
Goodall writes the forward to this book and urges young people around the world to participate in her Roots and Shoots program, engaging with conservation NOW in whatever region of the world they might live. 

The last third of this remarkable book is titled FIELD NOTES: Resources and More. It includes information about chimpanzees, including the Gombe family of chimps, a timeline of Jane's life and accomplishments, maps, extensive resources, chapter notes, and an index. The author's note describes the extensive resources and documentation that make this a definitive biography.

One of the first quotations to appear in this book is not from Jane but from her mother, Vanne Morris-Goodall:
"If you really want something, and you really work hard, and you take advantage of opportunities, and above all if you never give up, you will find a way."

Let's do what we can to help every child know that about themselves. A good place to start is by sharing books like these that portray real young people pursuing their dreams and making a real difference in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.