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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Funny Book Pokes Fun at 'Normal'

Normal Norman
Written by Tara Lazar and Illustrated by S. Britt
Sterling Children’s Books, March 2016
Ages: 4+

An eager young scientist, narrating her first book, is tasked with defining the word “normal.” To do this, she describes the appearance, home and family of Norman, who is “exceedingly normal.”

Unfortunately, Norman, a purple orangutan, turns out to be anything but normal. He drives a dune buggy, feels sorry for bananas and oranges when they’re peeled, and sleeps with a stuffed animal named Mr. Scruffles.

Hilarity ensues as the little scientist becomes more and more frustrated with Norman for ruining her demonstration. Finally, she throws her clipboard up in despair and begins to cry. Norman comforts her and invites her to observe him and his friends in their natural habitat. A rhinoceros paints, a lion rides a scooter, a giraffe roller skates, and a crocodile and snake play marbles. Finally, the junior scientist decides normal is different for everyone. She quits her narration and decides to do her normal hobby, riding on the back of a rhino and playing an unusual, new-fangled horn. The head scientist writes on his clipboard, “Results: ‘Normal’ is impossible to define. Assignment complete!"

“Normal Norman” is a fun story with a good message for children. The colorful, vibrant illustrations ratchet up the humor and offer many details for readers to enjoy.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Tara Lazar lives in Basking Ridge, NJ, with her husband, two daughters, and 2,749 stuffed animals including a four-foot-tall Norman.  She’s the author of “The Monstore,” “I Thought This Was a Bear Book” (both Simon & Schuster), and “Little Red Gliding Hood” (Random House). She founded Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) on her award-winning blog at

S. Britt (a.k.a. Stephan Britt) first developed his zeal for drawing in childhood, when he drew on anything and everything that wasn’t dripping wet. He soon decided there was nothing that would make him happier than illustrating children’s books. His first picture book, “Over in the Hollow,” was a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best. He lives in Portland, OR. Visit him online at

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