Not Norman : A Goldfish Story

Overview

With wry humor and lighthearted affection, author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Noah Z. Jones tell an unexpected—and positively fishy—tale about finding the good in something you didn't know you wanted.

"Don't think that just because you made me laugh, I'm going to keep you," I tell him. "Tomorrow, you're outta here."

Norman the goldfish isn't what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet—one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft...

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Overview

With wry humor and lighthearted affection, author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Noah Z. Jones tell an unexpected—and positively fishy—tale about finding the good in something you didn't know you wanted.

"Don't think that just because you made me laugh, I'm going to keep you," I tell him. "Tomorrow, you're outta here."

Norman the goldfish isn't what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet—one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Definitely not Norman. But when he tries to trade Norman for a "good pet," things don't go as he planned. Could it be that Norman is a better pet than he thought?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Our young narrator is not pleased with his birthday gift. Norman the goldfish is not the kind of pet he wanted. He cannot run, catch, chase strings, or sleep in his bed with him. All Norman does is swim around, and around. So our hero hopes to trade him away, perhaps at Show and Tell, or take him back to the pet store. But somehow a bond begins to grow between him and Norman. By the time they get to the pet store, there is not one other pet that he would trade for Norman. Jones brings a contemporary feeling to this old-fashioned story by creating the visuals digitally. There is a stencil-like but still light-hearted quality of passivity in the appealingly-designed spreads. Large flat color areas still supply contextual details of some middle-class suburb and adequately convey Norman's owner's changing emotions. 2005, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A little boy is sorely disappointed when he receives a goldfish for his birthday. "I wanted a pet who could run and catch. Or one who could climb trees and chase strings. A soft, furry pet to sleep on my bed at night. Not Norman." However, as Norman performs acrobatics and makes the child laugh, listens attentively during his show-and-tell presentation when the rest of the class does not, sings along during band practice, and comforts him when he is awakened by a scary noise at night, the boy comes to love and appreciate the pet he at first disdained. The story is told in simple, straightforward language, and the clear lines and vibrant colors of the digital graphics are reminiscent of Taro Gomi's work. This is a sweet story that could be used as a springboard to discussion of the pitfalls of making snap judgments about pets-or people.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In Bennett's story, a little boy (African-American) gets a goldfish as a present. Not a dog or a cat, not a pet that can curl up on his bed at night, for goodness sake-a goldfish. He thinks maybe he will trade the fish for something more pet-like; maybe he could do a trade-in. But events conspire to keep Norman the goldfish in the boy's possession. Slowly, grudgingly, the boy starts appreciating Norman's qualities: He's a good listener, he likes the boy's tuba-playing and though he'll never curl up on the boy's bed, he's there to console in the deep of the night. Maybe-no, certainly-the boy will keep Norman, whose virtue just took a little time to surface. Jones's bold art-great cutouts of refined color and characters that might have stepped out of the Hey Arnold Nickelodeon cartoon show-give the rather bald text the warmth to teach that appearances are rarely the whole truth. (Kudos to the illustrator and publisher for deciding this child did not have to be a freckle-faced blonde.) (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844282883
  • Publisher: Gardners Books
  • Publication date: 4/4/2005

Meet the Author

Kelly Bennett loves fish. "Fish are fun and funny," she says. "Just watching them makes me laugh." When she's not writing, Kelly creates tile mosaics and digs in her garden. She has two grown children, Max and Lexi, and lives in Texas with her husband, Curtis, and their goldfish—whom she would never trade.

Noah Z. Jones loves drawing fish of all shapes and sizes, but especially smallish orange ones named Norman. This is his first children's book. He lives in coastal Maine with his wife, Diane, and their tuna-lovin' cat, Mabel.

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