Delighted to be one of today’s stops on Tom Percival’s blog tour for ‘Perfectly Norman’, published by Bloomsbury books. Huge thanks to Faye Rogers for inviting me to review such a fantastic children’s book.
Norman had always been perfectly normal. That was until the day he grew a pair of wings!
Norman is very surprised to have wings suddenly – and he has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky. But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat.
But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?
A poignant yet uplifting story about individuality, with stunning artwork in a striking minimal palette from the author/illustrator of Herman’s Letter. Fans of Oliver Jeffers and Benj Davies will love it.
What does TWG think?
For me, reading and reviewing children’s books on my blog are such a delightful change of scenery. Most books I read cover a wide variety of in-depth, emotional, and often quite serious topics. Reading children’s books however, seem to enlighten the brain in such an innocent and eye-opening manner. ‘Perfectly Norman’ is one of those books, and then some.
Norman has always thought of himself as ‘normal’. But what actually is NORMAL? In Norman’s eyes, normal means he is just like everyone else with nothing out of the ordinary separating him from his peers. Well, until he grew a pair of wings of course. Can you imagine suddenly having wings? Being able to soar above the sky. Being the owner of more freedom than you ever thought possible. Being able to take flight whenever the situation arose. Sounds bliss really, doesn’t it? At first, the novelty of having a beautiful pair of wings wasn’t lost on little Norman, he took the situation by the wings and flew with it…literally. But being that ‘different’ came with a price. A price which a child should never, ever have to decipher.
Little Norman’s knee-jerk reaction was to hide his wings. Why? Because he was afraid. Afraid of what people would say if they were to find out about his wings. Afraid of the repercussions. Did hiding his wings help him? Well, let me ask you this; if you were the owner of something out of the ordinary, brought into your life out with your control (& yes, including illness related differences), which made you stand out differently to another person (aside from the obvious hair colour etc), would you feel happy about hiding those differences because you were afraid of other people’s reactions?
Would you? Because I certainly wouldn’t, and as someone who has to live my life with those differences, I most certainly dislike doing it.
Tom Percival needs a humongous hug, in my opinion. There’s a difference between an adult leaning more towards hiding things, especially as they’re able to understand more of the situation than a young child, but when a child feels that pressure – this is when people need to open their eyes and realise how much society needs educating.
‘Perfectly Norman’ is a beautiful, beautiful story about learning how to be yourself without shying away from the things which make you different. The things which make you, YOU. The language used in this story is perfectly matched to the topic of the story, and the illustrations completely blew my mind. Not only did Tom Percival write this magnificent story, he also illustrated it. Personally, I think he has done a truly fantastic job.
I read ‘Perfectly Norman’ with my then three-year old daughter (who turned four a few weeks later). Throughout the story, my daughter asked me questions such as; ‘why is the boy sad?’ and ‘why does he have wings and others don’t? don’t they want wings like him?’. It wasn’t a case of asking me why Norman was different, or laughing because he didn’t look like the other children. No. My daughter wanted to find out whether the other children wanted wings like Norman, AS WELL. In my eyes, that right there is the fundamental difference between a child’s mentality, and an adult’s mentality. As adults we, in theory, are more educated about certain situations than a child, and therefore more capable to direct our feelings towards those situations in a more logical manner. However, child often don’t receive the credit which they deserve, especially at times like these. Children understand a lot more than we seem to believe. They are aware of a lot more. They see situations a heck of a lot clearer than some adults often will. So, when a child comes up against a topic such as the one in ‘Perfectly Norman’, they will see it for what it is rather than spending ages deciphering every single point logistically, and often long-winded. Also known as – OVER THINKING EVERYTHING. Don’t get me wrong, not every adult (or even child) are like that.
Tom Percival’s children’s book is an extremely vital learning material for children of all ages, and yes, even adults. As soppy as this sounds, this book made me emotional because I could appreciate the sheer importance of the message which the author was trying to convey, and managed one hundred percent flawlessly.
‘Perfectly Norman’ is a beautiful, enchanting, eye-opening story which needs to be read by every single person out there. Such a joy to read, yet extremely emotional at the same time for those who can fully appreciate the sensitive topic.
Magnificent. My favourite children’s book of the year so far.
Thanks Faye Rogers & Bloomsbury.