not norman

Jeanne Loves Books – April 2018


Not Norman:  A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

A young boy wants a pet. He wants a pet he can play and snuggle with. When he gets a goldfish in a bowl named Norman he is really disappointed. “All Norman does is swim around and around and around and around…” This is definitely not the pet he wanted.  NOT NORMAN!

Our young guy tries a number of ways to get a different pet. He tries to trade Norman to a friend who has a lot of puppies. He prepares a great sign, “Norman, One Amazing Fish” for show-and -tell at school in hopes that one of his classmates will want him. Nothing works.

In the meantime, Norman starts proving his worth. He is always there and shows some personality. When our young narrator finally makes it to the pet store and checks out all the other options, he decides to keep Norman. The others “all look like good pets, but they are….NOT NORMAN.”

The cover of the book is a good example of the delightful illustrations throughout the book. They are clear, colorful and frequently include easily identifiable emotions. There is great repetition with Not Norman being a frequent refrain. The text is limited but does include words like twitches, gunky, rescue, tuba, Maestro.  There is lots of informal language too, like googly-eyed, goofy, yikes.

This is a sweet story about overcoming snap judgments about something or somebody. It is also an encouraging story about the value of a pet goldfish for those children whose choice of pets is limited because of allergies or other issues.

Fun with Reading

  1. Word or phrase repetitions are always fun – after the second or third repetition you can pause, point and wait for your child to join you in “reading” it
  2. On a number of pages stop and explore the emotions being depicted in the illustrations
  3. Notice the literacy examples in the story: The parents have included a book, Your Fish and You along with Norman in his bowl. Ask why that is a good idea.
  4. Talk about what role pets play in families

Author: JeanneLovesBooks

Jeanne is a retired youth services librarian and the former Supervisor of Hennepin County’s Readmobile Program. The Readmobile, which is also retired, was like a Bookmobile, but dedicated to young children, which developed and provided early literacy enriched visits to Head Start Programs, Early Childhood Learning Centers, Child Care Providers and Family, Friend and Neighbor Providers. Jeanne shares literacy info about books for infants through preschoolers in her “Jeanne Loves Books” column once a month. She welcomes your feedback and suggestions for books to highlight.

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