"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.)Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 1--Jane is an ordinary dog, which under normal circumstances shouldn't be cause for much angst. But as part of a circus troupe in which all of the other members of her family are extraordinarily graceful, strong, or brave, she feels the need to find her special talent. Unfortunately, she's afraid of heights, is not all that artistic, "and then there was that whole balancing ball disaster." Readers will notice that the ringmaster has a soft spot in his heart for Jane and understand how he could be perfectly content with her being "a really good dog." Harrison's detailed and expressive illustrations give the circus animals plenty of personality and lend an air of grandeur to their talents. The pages depicting Jane's disaster-prone circus tricks and the resulting emergency room visit are particularly funny. In a world full of competition for kids to be the fastest, smartest, and best at everything, this story's message is a worthy one. Jane is exceptionally good at being herself, and for that, she is loved.--Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OHCopyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.