Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Normal Norman by Tara Lazar and S. Britt
Normal Norman by Tara Lazar
Illustrations by S. Britt
Sterling Children's Books - Ages 4 and up
What exactly is the meaning of the word "normal"? Is there any such thing as normal when it comes to creatures? That's what Normal Norman is all about.
The narrator of Normal Norman, a young female scientist, introduces herself and seeks to explain the meaning of "normal" by pointing out a very normal, average animal: Norman the orangutan. But, Norman immediately begins to prove that there is no such thing as normal when the narrator peels a banana and Norman thinks she's torturing fruit. He begs her to stop. An orangutan who doesn't eat bananas and talks? That doesn't sound normal, does it? The scientist tries to show Norman's normal home, a jungle. But, Norman turns away and climbs into a bunk bed and says he can't sleep without his stuffed anteater, Mr. Scruffles.
Norman's best friend is a python. Norman likes to drive dune buggies and fly with a jet pack. There is nothing normal about Norman because, as this nutty orangutan shows, there is no such thing as normal.
After a slighly awkward beginning in which the narrator introduces herself (I could visualize myself having to explain what a narrator is, when reading to a child -- not a bad thing, actually), Normal Norman quickly becomes a very funny book.
Highly recommended - Great story, terrific theme, brilliantly colored illustrations that show movement and expression. The only things I disliked about Normal Norman were a couple pages that are slightly awkward for read-aloud and a different quality of paper than I'm accustomed to from Sterling Children's Books, neither of which are worth focusing on. The theme and humor make Normal Norman a book worth owning and definitely a great title to read to a class of young students who need to start learning early that there is no normal and it's okay to be yourself.
Note: After posting my review, the author tweeted to me to let me know that the matte paper in Normal Norman (different from the glossy I'm accustomed to) was a higher quality matte finish chosen for a vintage feel. And, here I had myself convinced it was the opposite. As I said, I don't think it was a negative at all. It was just different and surprised me. I think all Sterling Books are excellent quality. Thanks to Tara Lazar for clarifying!
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