The Trouble with Normal

The Trouble with Normal

by Charise Mericle Harper
     
 

Finnigan is not you average squirrel: 1. he wears dark glasses 2. he's friends with a boy named Doug 3. he wants to work for the Secret Service

But perhaps the most interesting thing of all about Finnigan is the report he writes up about Doug’s apartment building, Normal Towers. Finnigan notes suspicious behavior occurring on almost every floor and

See more details below

  • Checkmark Kids' Club Eligible  Shop Now

Overview

Finnigan is not you average squirrel: 1. he wears dark glasses 2. he's friends with a boy named Doug 3. he wants to work for the Secret Service

But perhaps the most interesting thing of all about Finnigan is the report he writes up about Doug’s apartment building, Normal Towers. Finnigan notes suspicious behavior occurring on almost every floor and makes sure that the White House is informed about it. Will his report finally earn him a job working for the president?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The narrator will win over nearly everyone.” Publishers Weekly

“The acrylic-and-collage illustrations are full of color and have lots of activity on every page.” School Library Journal

“Funny and fun, with an underlying friendship theme.” Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly
Finnigan, "a squirrel of exceptional character," sits in his walnut tree and spies on an apartment building called Normal Towers. Finnigan gets the scoop on everyone, from the guy in 2A who "performs sock puppet shows for his cat" to the fellow in 5B who "wears a dish towel as a cape." The unsuspecting parties appear silhouetted in their windows, happily performing their harmless stunts. To Finnigan, Normal Towers teems with "suspicious activity," and he sends a confidential report to the president of the U.S. While he awaits word from Washington, Finnigan trains to be a "Secret Service squirrel" with the narrator, a boy who lives in 3A and dryly indulges his nutty friend. Unlike Harriet the Spy or the folks in Rear Window, Finnigan never questions his invasions of privacy, and it pays off; the president thinks "the people of Normal are perfectly normal," but nevertheless awards the snoopy squirrel a tree on the White House lawn. Harper (There Was a Bold Lady Who Wanted a Star), who illustrates in hilarious mixed-media collages and writes in a wry deadpan, plays on secret agents' mystique; Finnigan wears dark glasses and knows where to find every acorn he has ever buried. Though some readers may suspect he's not so much a squirrel as a rat, his assets are that he has firm goals and "always tells the truth." Plus, the narrator will win over nearly everyone. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Doug thinks that Finnigan the squirrel is about the best friend a boy could ever have. Finnigan lives in the walnut tree in the park across from Normal Towers, where Doug lives. Finnigan has dreams of being the first squirrel to become a Secret Service agent for the president of the United States. Accordingly, Finnigan compiles a report about the strange goings-on at Normal Towers. It seems there is suspicious behavior on every floor of the complex. Even Doug is featured in Finnigan's report�for flashing his flashlight on and off before going to bed. This colorful, imaginative, and lighthearted romp will have school children, and probably adults too, laughing out loud. The acrylic illustrations are funny and friendly, inviting readers into the wacky world of Normal Towers, where nothing appears normal. 2003, Houghton Mifflin,
— Christopher Moning
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Doug has an unusual best friend. "He has a fantastic memory. He notices new things.-[and he] is a squirrel with exceptional character." Finnigan knows he has all the qualities to become a Secret Service squirrel. However, he is missing the one thing secret agents always wear when on the lookout-dark glasses. When Doug gives his pal a pair for his birthday, everyone who lives in Normal Towers, across from the park where Finnigan lives, is now under surveillance. Can becoming a Secret Service squirrel in the White House be far away? The acrylic-and-collage illustrations are full of color and have lots of activity on every page. The text is just the right size for beginning readers, but the story is a bit convoluted for this age group, and older children might find the story of a squirrel walking to Washington to pursue his dreams a bit of a stretch.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A squirrel realizes his lifelong dream of becoming a Secret Service agent in this picture book that is long on quirky concept and short on story. Narrated by the squirrel�s friend Doug, this bit of fluff details Finnigan the squirrel�s ambitions and his pursuit of his goal via an illustrated report of the goings-on at Doug�s apartment building, Normal Towers. The report, after official investigation, yields no arrests but does give Finnigan his ticket to Washington as an official Secret Service squirrel. The bright acrylic-and-collage illustrations are pleasingly busy and feature a variety of unusual perspectives, both of which suit a story that is all about observation. Harper (There Was a Bold Lady Who Wanted a Star, 2002, etc.) has a nice sense of squirrel psychology--Finnigan celebrates his new job by "rushing around the park digging up all his hidden nuts," accompanied by a bird�s-eye view of the path that he takes, marked by a frenzied red dotted line--and a unquestionable sense of irony. Still, there is little plot to hang this joke on, and it is doubtful that many in the likely audience will have enough sense of what the Secret Service is to get it. More than a little squirrelly. (Picture book. 5-8)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618156269
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/24/2003
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
4 - 5 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >