Book Review: The Watcher by Jeanette Winter


The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Follow Jane Goodall’s life in this vivid picture book.  The book follows Jane from her childhood where she spent a lot of time watching the animals around her, including having a robin nest built on her bookcase in her room.  Jane left home soon after graduating from school, heading to Kenya.  There she met Louis Leakey who was looking for someone to observe chimpanzees.  Jane headed into the jungle to watch the chimpanzees, spending time out near them just quietly viewing them.  She learned all sorts of things that no one had ever discovered before.  Jane spent many years with the chimpanzees learning, but then people began to threaten the chimpanzee habitat, so Jane had to leave them and become their voice, speaking out to assure their survival. 

Winter has created a book that speaks to the heart of what Goodall has done, all of her accomplishments and discoveries pale in the book and in life to her dedication to the animals themselves.  Goodall is a perfect subject for a picture book.  She is a brave woman who braved living alone in the wilderness to do what she felt she was meant to do with her life.  Winter captures all of this in few words, allowing Goodall’s life to speak for itself.

Winter’s illustrations are done in acrylic paint and pen.  They have strong forms, deep colors, and a childlike quality that make the book even more approachable for children.  I especially enjoy the cover image with the reflection of the chimpanzees in the lenses of her binoculars.  It sums up the book delightfully.

There is something special about a book that tells children to follow their hearts, but this one is even more special because it also shows children the value of watching and learning too.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

2012 Hans Christian Andersen Awards Nominees

IBBY has announced the nominees for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Awards.  The awards are given every two years to “an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important and lasting contribution to children’s literature.”  The nominees below are selected by IBBY National Sections from 33 countries. 

I always love seeing the covers of the books, even though I don’t speak many of the languages, so here are a selection of book covers from the nominated authors and illustrators along with the list of nominees:


Argentina: Author: Maria Teresa Andruetto; Illustrator: Pablo Bernasconi

Australia: Author: Christobel Mattingley; Illustrator: Bob Graham

Austria: Author: Monika Pelz; Illustrator: Renate Habinger

Belgium: Author: Bart Moeyaert; Illustrator: Louis Joos

Brazil: Author: Bartolomeu Campos de Queiros; Illustrator: Roger Mello

Canada: Author: Tim Wynne-Jones; Illustrator: Stephane Jorisch

Cyprus: Author: Elli Peonidou

Czech Republic: Illustrator: Peter Sís

Denmark: Author: Lene Kaaberbol; Illustrator: Charlotte Pardi

Finland: Author: Sinikka Nopola / Tiina Nopola; Illustrator: Virpi Talvitie

France: Author: Jean-Claude Mourlevat; Illustrator: Henri Galeron

Germany: Author: Paul Maar; Illustrator: Rotraut Susanne Berner

Greece: Author: Christos Boulotis; Illustrator: Effie Lada

Iran: Illustrator: Mohammad Ali Baniasadi

Ireland: Author: Eoin Colfer

Italy: Author: Bianca Pitzorno; Illustrator: Francesco Tullio-Altan

Japan: Author: Masamoto Nasu; Illustrator: Satoshi Kako

Republic of Korea: Author: Hwang Sun-Mi; Illustrator: Hong Seong-Chan

Latvia: Illustrator: Anita Paegle

Netherlands: Author: Tonke Dragt; Illustrator: Annemarie van Haeringen

Norway: Author: Bjorn Sortland; Illustrator: Oyvind Torseter

Romania: Author: Silvia Kerim; Illustrator: Valeria Moldovan

Russia: Illustrator: Gennadij Spirin

Serbia: Author: Ljubivoje Rsumovic; Illustrator: Dobrosav Zivkovic

Slovak Republic: Author: Daniel Hevier Illustrator: Peter Uchnár

Slovenia: Author: Tone Pavcek; Illustrator: Alenka Sottler

Spain: Author: Agustin Fernandez Paz; Illustrator: Javier Zabala Herrero

Sweden: Lennart Hellsing; Illustrator: Anna-Clara Tidholm

Switzerland: Author: Franz Hohler; Illustrator: Kathrin Scharer

Turkey: Author: Sevim Ak; Illustrator: Feridun Oral

United Kingdom: Author: Philip Pullman; Illustrator: John Burningham

USA: Author: Paul Fleischman; Illustrator: Chris Raschka

Venezuela: Illustrator: Arnal Balleste