FICTION

Norm

Thames & Hudson. May 2019. 40p. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9780500651612.
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PreS-Gr 2–“It’s ok to be different” is one of the messages of this quirky picture book from debut author/illustrator Liang. Norm and his friends “Plain” and “Simple” live in a town where everything is exactly the same, and they are happy that way. They spend their days measuring everything, until Norm is swept away by a strange yellow bird and a girl named Odd (short for “Odette”). He discovers a fantastical place where every being is unique, and, though he is nervous at first, discovers the beauty in standing out. Norm narrates the book in first person with short sentences and childlike confidence. His realization, “It’s the things that can’t be measured that I like most,” does not come off as heavy-handed or didactic, and his discomfort at experiencing new situations will ring true for many children. The illustrations in pencil and gouache are clever and unique. Norm and his chums are precious, and Odd’s colorful neighborhood and neighbors are surreal and straight out of a child’s fantasy. Liang plays with perspective and size in this setting leaving readers to question whether Norm has experienced this journey in reality or in his imagination.
VERDICT This one-of-a-kind offering is a comforting reassurance that being normal can mean being the same or being different or a little of each. It comes in a beautiful package that will remind readers of the works of Carson Ellis.

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