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Children's Nonfiction Biology

I Am Josephine

(And I Am a Living Thing)

by (author) Jan Thornhill

illustrated by Jacqui Lee

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2019
Biology, General, Environmental Science & Ecosystems, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: k to 2


An upbeat picture book supporting diversity and STEM for ages 4 to 8, exploring how kids are part of the larger world of living things

Meet Josephine: a spirited and curious girl, a big sister, and a human being. She’s also a mammal, an animal, and a living thing—all identities she explores with readers in this simple informational picture book.
Josephine presents her family (and herself) as examples of human beings, and then familiar creatures like her dog and her mom (and herself) as mammals. Next, she adds whales, lobsters, hummingbirds, and elephants (and herself) as examples of animals. Finally, she shares examples of living things, including moose, foxes, butterflies, flowers, and bugs… and, of course, herself!
Inspired by science and nature writer Jan Thornhill’s many classroom visits, this book is intended to help children recognize themselves as part of the natural world, with an emphasis on how all living things share similarities.
Playful, kid-friendly illustrations in vibrant colors paired with minimal text make this an easy introduction to the classification of living things. Endmatter goes into further detail about the unique characteristics of humans, mammals, animals, and living things.

About the authors

Jan Thornhill is an author, illustrator and designer who brings her fascination with the natural world to her books for children. They include I Found a Dead Bird (National Parenting Publications Gold Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award); The Wildlife 123 (UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration, Governor General’s Award finalist); and The Wildlife ABC (Governor General’s Award finalist). Jan recently won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. She spends her spare time in the woods obsessively collecting and cataloguing wild mushrooms and slime molds.

Jan Thornhill's profile page

Jacqui Lee’s illustrations are focused on storytelling and are inspired by the world around her. Jacqui's I Am Josephine was a CCBC Best Book for Kids and Teens and she was awarded an Alcuin Society Award for Excellence in Book Design for Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem. Her work is fun, cheerful and aims to bring a smile to people’s faces. She loves the handmade and textural look of gouache paint and often carries a sketchbook with her, especially while travelling. An alumnus of the Alberta University of the Arts, she now lives in London, UK.


Jacqui Lee's profile page


  • Commended, Great Lakes Great Books
  • Unknown, Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens, starred selection

Editorial Reviews

"A charming introduction to the concept of classification in the natural world...readers will enjoy following along with Josephine as she explores what similarities she shares with all other living things."

The National Reading Campaign

"A charmingly simple way to help children see how they fit into the world around them."

Kirkus Reviews

"Cheerful illustrations by Jacqui Lee showcase global cultures and inclusive settings, encouraging young readers to imagine a world that exists beyond their own neighbourhoods and to reflect on the concept of individuality."

Quill & Quire

"A solid introduction to the concept of scientific classification...children are invited into the text through seek-and-find to explore the illustrations and are prompted by questions to explain their own uniqueness and place in the living world."

Resource Links

“This easy-to-follow journey through the classification system would be terrific for children ages 3-8 who are starting to question who they are and how they are related to the world around them.”

Green Teacher

"A smart way to introduce that characteristics that unite and distinguish members of the natural world."

Publishers Weekly

"The combination of science lesson and find-and-search works brilliantly...colorful and cheerful."


"I Am Josephine is an excellent book... Highly versatile and suitable for home or school libraries... Highly recommended."

Canadian Review of Materials

Other titles by Jan Thornhill

Other titles by Jacqui Lee

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