NORMAN, SPEAK! by Caroline Adderson


by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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In this picture-book debut, novelist Adderson (Jasper John Dooley: Not in Love, 2014, etc.) provides an affectionate look into the surprises of bringing home a new pet.

It’s a familiar scene for many families: A young boy and his parents adopt a dog from the animal shelter. Overwhelmed by the choices, the boy wishes he could take home every forlorn-looking pup. He decides that he’ll choose a stray, Norman, that has been there the longest. The pup has a stump of a tail, and his wag is “a hula dance of happiness.” At home, the boy encourages Norman to do the usual canine things, like sit or speak. Norman, however, doesn’t understand, and the boy figures that Norman just isn’t very smart. But intelligence is deceiving. Through an encounter with another pet owner, the boy discovers that Norman understands Chinese (Mandarin), not English. (“Norman! Why didn’t you say so?” scolds the boy.) Pet lovers will appreciate this family’s lighthearted journey toward making this relationship succeed. As an added bonus, readers can learn or brush up on their Mandarin, giving an original twist to the story. Leng’s illustrations in ink on paper add heart with warm pastel hues. The simple and clean facial expressions convey emotions with the right touch, from puzzlement to complete joy.

Norman’s rocking rump and hula dance are quite the highlights—it’s a language everyone can understand. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 13th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-55498-322-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2014


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