Published by Bloomsbury, 2017.
Perfectly Norman is a beautiful story about celebrating differences and having the confidence to be yourself. Norman had always been perfectly normal until the day he grew wings. Initially he is delighted with his wings and has the best fun ever, swooping around in the sky. A bit later, the worries and doubts creep in. His new wings set him out as different. He becomes self-conscious. What will his parents and friends think? How will they react? Will he still be accepted?
He decides to wear a great big coat to keep his extraordinary wings covered up. This makes life difficult. Norman is uncomfortable and too hot. Bath times are problematic. He can’t join in with his friends at the swimming pool or on the bouncy castle. Eventually he realises that it’s the coat and not his wings that’s making him miserable and, with the encouragement of his parents, he throws off his coat and lets his wings fan out once more. By embracing his differences Norman is able to be happy. His new-found confidence to be himself even inspires other children to do the same.
I was immediately drawn to this book; I love the dazzling neon cover for a start! For me, the book’s appeal works on many levels. Its plot is heartwarming and the themes of self-confidence and acceptance are positive and uplifting. Perfectly Norman is also a visual treat. I love the illustrations. Tom Percival’s use of colour is really effective. Everything in Norman’s world, apart from him, is drawn in shades of black and white. Norman, with his yellow jumper and later his yellow coat, stands out as a pop of colour on each page. It’s only in the scenes when Norman has his wings that the rest of the image is bursting with colour too. There’s another little detail in the illustrations that I also really liked – the bounce and swoosh in Norman’s hair when he’s in motion.
Perfectly Norman is a wonderfully reassuring book to share with children. You could read it with a child who’s feeling troubled by their own differences. Sharing it with your child, or your class if you work in a school, would also be a great way to build empathy and understanding; it’s the perfect prompt to trigger discussions about otherness, acceptance and individuality.
You can watch the book trailer for Perfectly Norman here.
Suitable for children aged 2+
Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review. I reviewed this book as part of the Perfectly Norman blog tour.