Not Norman: A Goldfish Story
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story

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Annotation: As a boy attempts to convince someone else to take his disappointing pet, he learns to love Norman the goldfish himself.
Catalog Number: #31453
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: 2005
Illustrator: Jones, Noah
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-2763-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-21592-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-2763-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-21592-4
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2004051534
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
The African American boy who narrates this boy-meets-fish story wants a pet for his birthday, but not a goldfish. Too bad. Though he suspects that Norman is the lamest, tamest pet around, he takes his fish to school to talk him up real good during Show-and-Tell in hopes that someone else will want him. But after cleaning Norman's bowl, rescuing him from puppies, and noticing that Norman listens to him talk and even quiets his fear of night noises, he realizes that there is no pet he would rather have. Repeated several times during the story, the title phrase Not Norman takes on a new shade of meaning in the verbally clever turnaround that concludes this amusing picture book. Distilled to essential shapes and flat colors, the lively digital artwork expresses both action and emotion with flair. This eye-catching book makes a satisfying read-aloud choice for pet day or any day.
Horn Book
A young African-American boy is unhappy with his birthday present: a goldfish he names Norman. His awakening to Norman's virtues is so gradual and funny that readers won't mind that they can predict the book's ending: the boy can't go through with trading Norman for a more charismatic pet. Appealing digitally rendered art is clean-lined without looking synthetic.
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)
Publishers Weekly

To say that Norman the goldfish is a disappointing birthday present is putting it mildly. "I wanted a different kind of pet," the unnamed boy narrator grumbles as he stares into the bowl. "Not Norman." In fact, Norman is one big refutation of what defines a pet: the fish can't cuddle, doesn't exude coolness and won't fetch. "All Norman does is swim around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around...." Little by little, however, the boy is won over by Norman's vulnerability (when the hero cleans the "gunky" green stuff from Norman's bowl, the bright orange fish literally jumps for joy), finny winsomeness and steadfastness (especially on one particularly spooky night). This emotional turnaround never feels forced or pat, thanks to a strong partnership between Bennett's text and newcomer Jones's artwork. The off-the-cuff yet kidlike prose ideally suits the bright, crisp digital drawings, which resemble the kicky, stylized animation found on Cartoon Network. By the time the boy declares, "[E]ven if I could pick any pet in the whole world, I wouldn't trade him. Not Norman," readers will cheer the birth of a beautiful friendship. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
Word Count: 592
Reading Level: 2.4
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 86526 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:1.8 / points:1.0 / quiz:Q36540
Lexile: 460L
Guided Reading Level: L
Fountas & Pinnell: L

"A sweet story that could be used as a springboard to discussion of the pitfalls of making snap judgments about pets — or people." — School Library Journal

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? 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.

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