Normal Norman

illus. by S.britt. 40p. Sterling. 2016. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781454913214.
K-Gr 2—A junior scientist is very excited (and a little nervous) to be narrating a book that will define the word normal. Her subject is Norman, a gorilla who we are told is exceedingly normal. Unfortunately for our scientist, no one told Norman. The girl is stymied in her endeavor to show readers normal behavior at every turn. Norman likes pizza, not bananas; he speaks in English, not animal sounds; he sleeps in a bunk bed with his stuffed animal; and his best friend is a snake. Eventually, Norman invites the scientist to see him and his friends in their natural habitat, which of course turns out to be completely abnormal. Having an epiphany, the scientist quits to go back to her normal hobby of playing a Dr. Seuss-esque musical instrument. In case anyone has missed the point, the last illustration shows the senior scientist (father) taking note: "Results: 'Normal' is impossible to define. Assignment complete!" The humorous text is an eye-catching mix of various fonts, instructional labels, and word bubbles. The amusing illustrations use color, detail, and white space to good effect and perfectly capture the mood and expressions of the characters.
VERDICT Despite being overly long and a tad didactic, this book is a topical and humorous addition.

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