THE NORMAL NORMAN BOOK TOUR
Written by Tara Lazar
Illustrated by S.britt
Sterling Children’s Books 3/01/2016
40 pages Ages 4+
“What is ‘normal?’ That’s the question an eager young scientist, narrating her very first book, hopes to answer. Unfortunately, her exceedingly ‘normal’ subject—an orangutan named Norman—turns out to be exceptionally strange. He speaks English, sleeps in a bed, loves his stuffed toy, goes bananas over pizza, and even deep-sea dives! Oh, no: what’s a ‘normal’ scientist to do?” [press release]
By observing a seemingly normal orangutan, the narrator—a young scientist—hopes to define “normal” behavior. The orangutan’s name is Norman. Norman has an average size head, normal ears, and normal looking paws. This is it for “normal,” as Norman is anything but normal. He seems to have picked up many behaviors from his observers. Normal loves pizza (forget bananas), he speaks English, and sleeps, not in a cave or a tree, but in a bunk bed; top bunk, with Mr. Scruffles his stuffed anteater. Norman does not even look normal. He is a purple and yellow, glasses wearing orangutan.
The narrator tries her best to normalize Norman, but he is offended and leaves the lab—driving away in a dune buggy. The narrator has a meltdown,
“This is definitely, positively NOT NORMAL! This is crazy. This is absurd! This is ruining my perfectly normal demonstration!”
Norman offers to show the narrator his natural habitat, calling it a, “most normal place.” Encouraged, the narrator begins her presentation anew. She asks us to note how normal Norman and his friends look in their natural habitat.
Normal Norman is a wonderful blend of observation and crazy. Norman is not what one would consider normal in his “natural habitat.” The same holds true for his friends. To wit: a roller-skating giraffe, marble-shooting alligator and snake, and a tandem bike riding zebra and kangaroo.
Young children will quickly understand that most anything is normal; it all depends on the individual’s likes and dislikes. While that is simplistic, for young children this definition of normal works. The bigger message for young children would be self-acceptance. In short: Be yourself, like yourself, and accept the same for others. Our individuality—our normal—is what makes each of us shine.
Children and adults will love the exaggerated humor in Normal Norman. The illustrations—drawn and painted by hand—are key to this wonderful scientific study. Details abound on each spread, giving kids much to observe. As the narrator notes Norman’s normal features, the lead scientist makes his own notes (watching the narrator). The text aims to be a “dry analytical observation,” while the images explode the meaning of normal for the narrator. Together, they emphasize the idea of diversity.
I love how, in the end, the narrator joins in the fun, riding a rhino while tooting a rather large and ornate multi-horn, straight out of Dr. Seuss’s sketchbook. While the young narrator has fun, the adult “head scientist” draws the observation’s conclusion: “Normal is impossible to define.” It is okay to be yourself and to celebrate the crazy “Normal-Norman” in yourself and in others.
Normal Norman is a truly fun, energized discourse on individuality and acceptance for young children.
NORMAL NORMAN. Text copyright © 2016 by Tara Lazar. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by S.britt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sterling Children’s Books, New York, NY.
Find Normal Norman on Goodreads HERE.
Normal Norman’s Activity Kit is HERE. (sorry I forgot this earlier)
Sterling Children’s Books: http://www.sterlingpublishing.com/childrens-books.html
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Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author.
She’s released six picture books her first three years as a published author.
Little Red Gliding Hood (2015)
I Thought this was a Bear Book (2015)
Normal Norman (2016)
7 Ate 9: the Untold Story (2016)
Way Past Bedtime (2016)
NORMAL NORMAN. Illustrations © 2016 by S.britt. Used by permission of Sterling Children’s Books.
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: Normal Norman by Tara Lazar & S.britt, and received from Sterling Children’s Books, (an imprint of Sterling Publishing), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Here is the Schedule for the Normal Norman Book Tour.
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