I’ve always been drawn to nature journaling—the sort of doodling/sketching you do that allows you to see an object more clearly than you would if you weren’t drawing it. This picture book biography is a nature journal of sorts. Certainly its clarity is almost sublime. Jane, a small girl in England, studies nature and records her increasingly complex impressions in sepia ink on cream-colored paper. By contrast, McDonnell’s ink and watercolor drawings are sweet and a little goofy. In a sly reference to Burroughs’ Tarzan, we see the small child swinging through her jungle of yard in a cardigan and plaid skirt. “One day,” McDonnell writes, “curious Jane wondered where eggs came from. So she… snuck into Grandma Nutt’s chicken coop…hid beneath some straw, stayed very still…and observed the miracle.” Both hen and child have expressions of surprise. Jane dreams of traveling to Africa, and in a wonderful sequence, goes to sleep in her bed with her toy chimpanzee (page turn), wakes as an adult in her tent in Africa (page turn), and realizes her dream, illustrated by a stunning use of the iconic photograph of young primatologist Jane Goodall and a very young primate reaching across species to take one another’s hand. I’ve never seen better use of mixed media in a picture book. Only Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Keats’ Snowy Day, and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon come this close to perfection. Ages 5 and up.