Extraordinary Jane

Hannah E. Harrison, in her exuberant first picture book about a dog who discovers her calling, endows her animal characters with soulful eyes and personality while retaining the traits nature gave them.

Barnaby Beluchi's posters of marvelous circus animals (e.g., "Penelope the Painting Pachyderm," a "Swingin' Monkey Band") dominate the opening spread, which introduces an unassuming Maltese: "Jane was ordinary, in a world that was extraordinary." With a turn of the page, youngsters see the animals performing as Jane looks on in wonder. Jane's mother, in a rose-pink tutu, rides a horse bareback ("She wasn't graceful like her mother"). Her father can lift an elephant with his two front paws ("or mighty like her father"; Jane carts off the pachyderm's droppings). Jane's brothers shoot out of cannons, and her sisters walk the tightrope. Poor Jane. "[H]er jokes were a flop... her music lacked musicality... her paintings, pizzazz." Harrison varies perspectives and color combinations, always keeping Jane just out of the spotlight: "Jane was just Jane." Throughout, Barnaby Beluchi's kind face betrays his fondness for the pup, even on a hilarious spread of Jane's attempt to stand on a giant red sphere (the "balancing ball disaster"), which sends the entire animal cast plus Barnaby right off the page and into the infirmary. Harrison's large-scale scenes of the circus give the contrast with the intimate images of Jane all the more impact.

All ends well for Jane. She's just the ticket for quiet moments of togetherness. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Powered by: Xtenit