Winter, J. (2011). The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s life with the chimps. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books. ISBN: 9780375867743
Annotation: Even as a child, Jane Goodall was a watcher. She wanted to learn things no one ever had, and she set off for Africa to live with the chimpanzees and learn everything she could about them.
Reaction: The illustrations are simple and a little cartoony, which isn’t a bad thing, and the colors used are lovely. Winter uses a lot of teals, blues and greens, giving the art a warm and peaceful feeling, like looking at pictures of tropical paradises. All the scenes of just Goodall with the chimps allow the reader to sort of feel what it might be like to be in her position: no other people around, no modern comforts, but not lonely and enjoying the wilderness.
This book could be used in 4th or 5th grade as part of science unit on animals. Goodall is the premier knowledge on chimpanzees, and this could be read alongside a class learning about primates to introduce the students to the scientist behind what people know.
One of the things that I really enjoy about picture book biographies is the way they have introduced me to so many different historical figures that I had never heard of before or knew very little about. These books are a great opportunity to give kids (and adults!) a quick overview of someone awesome without having to devote a lot of time or effort to a more traditional, long biography. I feel like picture book biographies are an ideal way to interest readers, particularly reluctant readers, in learning more about historical figures and time periods. And since the books are generally so short, it’s easy to give kids book after book until they find something that really clicks with them.
Media Used: Acrylic paint and pen
Author’s Website: None