Author: Tara Lazar; Illustrator: S. britt
Published March 1, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
GoodReads Summary: 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?
Ricki’s Review: Norman is one of those great literary characters that will stick with readers for a long time. The book is quite humorous, and my son was giggling as we read it together. Norman is anything but normal, yet the young scientist makes strong efforts to prove that he is normal. She becomes very frustrated, and then Norman teaches her an important lesson. I enjoyed this book because it was a fresh take on the idea of: What does it mean to be normal? I also enjoyed the layout of each page. The quote bubbles from the characters added another layer to the text that would be great to discuss in the classroom with a close reading. This will be a favorite in classrooms, and I recommend it highly.
Kellee’s Review: I love everything that this book stands for. It shows that normal is whatever you make it, that everyone should be accepted for what they are, and normal isn’t always what it seems. Norman helps mold the young scientist’s mind which will hopefully lead readers to also rethink what they think normal is. I am definitely going to use this book as one of our “precepts” in the future because I really think it’ll make students think.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might consider using this text to teach broad conceptions of normalcy. Often, young students conceive of normalcy as anything similar to them. A teacher might introduce different groups, customs, and cultures to allow students to understand that normal is a socially constructed concept, and people can be different yet still normal. Or perhaps, students might determine that there is no such thing as being “normal.”
Discussion Questions: What does it mean to be normal? Is anyone normal? How might we conceive of normalcy more broadly?; What lessons does the scientist learn? How does she learn them?
We Flagged: “Allow me to introduce Norman. He will help me demonstrate the word normal. You see, Norman is EXCEEDINGLY normal.”
Reprinted with permission from Normal Norman © 2016 by Tara Lazar, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations © 2016 by Stephan Britt.
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Check Out Normal Norman at the other stops on the tour!:
**Thank you to Josh from Sterling books for providing copies for review!!**