Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NOT NORMAN by Kelly Bennett


A Goldfish Story

by Kelly Bennett & illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7636-2384-9
Publisher: Candlewick

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)