Do you remember your first book? Was it Grover and the Monster at the End of This Book? Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore’s Birthday? A Child’s Garden of Verses? De Angeli’s Book of Nursery & Mother Goose Rhymes? The Pokey Little Puppy? Milton the Early Riser? Horton Hears a Who? The Little Golden Book of Manners? The Five Chinese Brothers? The Ugly Duckling? Curious George Goes to the Hospital? I remember all of these (all recommended), but am not sure which was my very first. A Child’s Garden of Verses was my first exposure to 3D via its magical lenticular cover. I’ve read them all years later and they have much in common–compassion and respect for others and yourself is a common theme of them all.
Throughout the past year Brad Meltzer, noted fiction and non-fiction author and television personality (and DC Comics writer for the Identity Crisis and Green Arrow series) joined former Marvel Comics artist Christopher Eliopoulos to produce the Ordinary People Change the World series of books for young readers from Dial/Penguin/Random House. Each of these could–or should–be your child, your nephew, niece, grandchild, or other young friend’s first book. The latest, released this month, feature Dr. Jane Goodall and President George Washington. As the holidays get closer, make a note of I Am Jane Goodall. It’s a storybook written in an autobiographical style incorporating actual quotes from the noted scientist, environmentalist, and animal rights advocate, and belongs at the top of our recommendation list for today’s young readers.
Meltzer and Dr. Goodall have gone back to young Goodall’s decisions and thinking as a child to relate to readers her influences, desires, and dreams, and how she went about carving a path to change the world. Eliopoulos draws Dr. Goodall as an adorable girl throughout. We meet her first stuffed chimp named Jubilee, and witness her thinking about moving to Africa to study chimpanzees at a young age, then actually saving the money to go to Kenya at 23 to visit the animals, meet Dr. Louis Leakey and eventually work for him, then to go on and live among the animals and learn more about communication and primates than anyone before her. The story is sweet, inspiring, and beautifully written and drawn.
“We Can All Be Heroes” is a theme of the Ordinary People Change the World series, and it’s a good message for young and old alike. Dr. Goodall is the only living personality to be featured in the series so far. Prior books in the series feature Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Jackie Robinson, George Washington (we’ve read this one, and it’s a good introduction to the country’s founding father for little ones) and Lucille Ball. Future books include Jim Henson and Sacajawea.
It’s also a fun addition that Meltzer and Eliopoulos include “Where’s Waldo?” type images throughout all their books for kids to hunt for.
Pick up I Am Jane Goodall now here at Amazon. Links on the names of the other featured heroes noted above also point to the respective books on Amazon.