Extraordinary Jane

Common Sense Media says

Dog gains self-acceptance in visually stunning circus story.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Lots of opportunities for discussions about emotions and acceptance. What feels hard for us? What do we accept about ourselves? Some families might also want to talk about animals in circuses. These are story animals, but what about real ones?

Positive messages

You don't have to do anything extraordinary to be loved, valued, and cherished.

Positive role models

Jane the dog tries and fails repeatedly at being a stunt animal, but she's a really good dog -- she sits up and begs! And she's a loyal friend. The Ringmaster also models acceptance, accepting her for being a sweet, furry pup.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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.

Book details

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
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 5
Read aloud:2 - 4
Read alone:5 - 6
Available on:Hardback, Kindle, Nook

This review of Extraordinary Jane was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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