Normal Norman written by Tara Lazar with illustrations by S. britt (published by Sterling Children’s Books on March 1st, 2016)
Norman is a normal (not!) purple orangutan, an ideal specimen to highlight all things normal . . . Of course, our young narrator scientist does not have an easy time in this in depth research process. Norman teaches her a thing or two about self-expression in this delightful, humorous story!
My students adored this book and found Norman to be quite amusing and inspiring. We spent an afternoon sketching him and our favourite little scientist.
In the lab . . .
A study of research scientists.
Norman in the lab.
One student issued a challenge: Did you spot the 5 vines?
Norman, the dancer.
Little artist with her inspired drawing.
My students had many questions for Tara!
She was game to respond to all of them!
Thank you Tara!
Student questions are in bold and Tara’s answers are below.
Part way through, she should have switched him (Norman) for a tiger, don’t you think?
Tiger? You mean a double-headed donkey, right?
Is your message that all animals don’t need to do the same thing?
If that’s what you think, sure.
Or is your message “You don’t have to be normal”? That would be good because you don’t have to be like other people. Or other orangutans.
Another wonderful interpretation. We should not all be like other orangutans.
Did you give the illustrator the idea to have all the animals riding and driving things?
No, that was totally Stephan (which is the full first name of “S.britt.” Although I’m not sure if I’m supposed to divulge that top-secret information. I hope the book police don’t come after me.)
At the end, when the narrator wasn’t normal, she seemed happier. Was that your plan the whole time?
I don’t know. WAS IT?
Do you feel really protective about fruit?
Not particularly. I’m far more protective of vegetables. Hey, watch it with those carrots!
What kind of not normal things do you do? Are they fun?
I write books for kids—while wearing my pyjamas. That is most certainly not normal. And also tons of fun.
Did you look at different animals and think what’s the opposite?
I looked at Norman and wanted him to NOT do what everyone expected him to do.
Do you write on a computer or with a pencil first?
Well, it really depends upon where you believe the story started. Most new ideas I jot down on paper very quickly. And usually with a pen. (Writing with a pencil gives me the chills.) But when I sit down to really write the story, to get past that initial spark, I do so on a computer. When I get stuck, that’s when I’ll pull out a notebook and start doodling and writing questions I have to answer and drawing arrows to possible solutions.
Do you write in the afternoon?
You can find me writing just about any time of day. I’m an equal-clockortunity writer.
When you can’t think of something to write do you go outside to look for ideas?
No, I usually take a shower. That is, if I’m dirty and out of ideas. If I’m clean and out of ideas, then I might go for a walk.
Check out the other amazing posts about Normal Norman – some still to come and some already published!
**Thank you to Josh from Sterling books for providing a copy for review!!