My sister Emily is back today with another children’s book review! To find more reviews written by Emily, have a look through my Index. (I think every single children’s book on the list is reviewed by Emily!) Today review is part of a blog tour for this adorable book called Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival.
Norman had always been normal, perfectly normal…
until the day he grew a pair of wings!
A bold and uplifting book about daring to be different and having the courage to dance to your own tune.
Perfect for soothing even the biggest worries.
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival:
Imagine waking up one morning, only to find out you’ve changed. You’re not the same person you were before you went to bed. Something is different. Maybe you’ve shrunk, or perhaps you’ve grown another head. How would you feel? Would you embrace it or would you hide away, ashamed to admit you’re not the same as everybody else? Tom Percival’s new picture book, Perfectly Norman, explores the feeling of being different.
When I opened the book, the first thing that struck me was the choice of colour. The whole world is washed in black-and-white, apart from small parts of this little boy called Norman. This instantly got me thinking; perhaps Norman sees everybody and everything equally. Maybe, in Norman’s life, differences don’t matter. Until suddenly, Norman is different.
“Norman had always been normal – perfectly normal. Until one day…
…he grew a pair of wings!”
The next few pages of the book show Norman embracing his new power. He decides that he may as well use his wings now that they are there. The world is no longer black-and-white and Norman flies through a blue sky. His new life is amazing! His wings are so much fun! Until… he gets called in for dinner and his perfectly normal life continues as if nothing happened. All of a sudden, Norman comes crashing down to reality and realises that normal people don’t have wings. He ‘didn’t know what his parents would think’. He puts on his thick winter coat to cover all evidence that he was ever different, and never takes it off. Nobody will ever see his wings.
Skipping forward a few pages, Norman sees some birds flying high up in the air. It makes him remember the first time he flew and he thinks back to how happy he was.
“It occurred to Norman that it was the coat that was making him miserable, not the wings.”
Tom Percival has been amazingly clever with this picture book. Using the analogy of wings and a thick coat, Percival has explained a very difficult topic to young children: the importance of being different. Although picture books are traditionally read to small children, this book could even be used for older children to spark significant discussions. What do the wings represent? Do they mean that somebody could have a special talent they are hiding, or perhaps something in their personality that they haven’t shared to anybody? Equality is a massive issue in the world at the moment, and this book could be the perfect example to encourage children not to be ashamed of who they are.
Perfectly Norman has had an impact on me that I have rarely experienced from a picture book. The ingenious use of colour and metaphor has left me thinking about how people all over the world hide their differences, perhaps because of a fear of feeling alienated from their friends, their family, or a wider group of people. There are so many issues that can be drawn out from this story and delicately discussed with children.
“He realised that there was no such thing as perfectly normal…
But he was perfectly Norman. Which was just as it should be.”
When a picture book can be exciting and imaginative for even a 22-year-old woman to enjoy, you know it will be special. I can see Perfectly Norman becoming very significant in the issues of equality, and a massive step forward in encouraging young children to be whoever they decide to be.
About the Author
Tom Percival writes and illustrates picture books and has also produced covers and internal illustrations for the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Tom has written and illustrated three books for Bloomsbury: HERMAN’S LETTER, BUBBLE TROUBLE and the forthcoming HERMAN’S HOLIDAY. He grew up in a remote and beautiful part of South Shropshire. He now lives in a far more conventional building (a house), with his girlfriend and their young sons.
Thank you to Emily for reviewing another book for me, and thank you to Faye for organising another successful blog tour! Here’s the banner if you want to visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour:
Click the links below to buy a copy of Perfectly Norman or read about it on Goodreads: