A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Extraordinary Jane, by debut author/illustrator Hannah E. Harrison, is a young, sweet, visually stunning tale of self-acceptance. Harrison has a background as a painter and an animal portraitist and captures all the fun of the circus setting. The gentle message of self-acceptance is delivered with three-ring fanfare.
What's the story?
Jane's an ordinary dog in an extraordinary world -- the circus! -- where her mom rides bareback, her dad effortlessly lifts elephants, and her brothers are shot out of cannons. When Jane tries to find her own special talent, disaster ensues. But by the end of the story, she's loved and celebrated by the Ringmaster and the rest of her circus family for her own simple qualities as a warm and loving pup.
Is it any good?
There's a lot that's extraordinary about EXTRAORDINARY JANE. Though the book's a debut for author/illustrator Hannah E. Harrison, she clearly has command of the picture-book craft. The language, though spare, is exceedingly clever: "her music lacked musicality... her paintings pizzazz." Harrison's paintings, on the other hand, have plenty of pizzazz and exploit the visual possibilities of the circus. She first pictures the dizzying heights of the trapeze from below and then, terrifyingly, from above. There's also lots of turn-the-page fun -- for instance, a quick reference to "the whole balancing ball disaster" followed by a wordless spread of animals recuperating, banged-up in bandages. Also, the book opens with circus ballyhoo -- an inviting spread of colorful posters.
In the end, Jane proves her worth simply by being a sweet, furry, lovable pup who fetches the Ringmaster's hat and then sits up and begs. Young readers will warm both to Jane and her very extraordinary world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about feeling ordinary. Do you ever compare yourself with others and feel bad that you can't do what they do?
Does it sometimes seem that people on TV and in the movies can do more things than you can? When you hear about celebrities, do you ever feel that you're not as good as they are?
What do you do well? Why do other people like you? List everything you can think of.
- Author: Hannah E. Harrison
- Illustrator: Hannah E. Harrison
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: February 6, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 5
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love picture books and animal stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.