"Jane was ordinary, in a world that was extraordinary," opens Harrison's picture book about a shaggy, dewy-eyed white dog. It's no understatement: tiny Jane is shown in the corner of a three-ring circus while monkeys play brass, a beret-wearing elephant paints a portrait, and a bear rides a bicycle across a tightrope. Jane doesn't even stack up within her own family. "She wasn't graceful like her mother," Harrison writes, as the elder dog stands ballerina-perfect atop a galloping horse while wearing a frilly pink dress and crown of roses. She isn't "mighty like her father," either—he can lift an elephant, but a bucket labeled "elephant poop" is all Jane can manage. This is an exceptionally polished first book. Harrison's acrylic paintings, which blend realistic animal portraits with a charmingly old-fashioned circus setting to very funny effect, are the star of the show, but her understated storytelling and pacing are equally on the mark. Jane's under-the-radar helpfulness and all-around sweetness confirm the story's closing sentiment that being "a really good dog" is something extraordinary in itself. Ages 3–5. Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014 Release date: 02/06/2014 Genre: Children's
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