Monday, March 9, 2015

Picture Book Monday with a review of Norman, Speak!

When I was sixteen I found a little poodle mix on the streets of the town where I lived. He followed me home, and soon after he became a member of the family. At first I talked to the dog in Greek because we were living in a Greek speaking country. He did not respond to me at all and I thought that he wasn't very bright. Then we spoke to him in English and it became clear that he came from an English speaking household. He knew how to sit and stay and he was a proper little gentleman. In today's book you will meet a dog whom people make assumptions about, and it turns out that they are as wrong about their dog as I was about mine.

Norman, Speak!Norman, Speak!
Caroline Adderson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Groundwood Books, 2014, 978-1-55498-322-3
One day a boy and his parents go to the animal shelter so that they can adopt a dog. When they get there they realize that choosing a dog is not going to be easy; there are so many dogs that desperately need homes. The boy decides that they should adopt the dog who has been at the shelter the longest, and so they end up taking home a brown-and-white dog with a little stumpy tail. The dog was a stray and his name is Norman. Norman is thrilled to be out of his cage. He is thrilled when they leave the shelter. In fact he is so happy that “his whole rump swung from side to side.”
   When they get home the boy tries to teach Norman to sit, to come and to speak. He tries to teach Norman his own name, but the dog does not seem to understand a single thing the boy says and the boy starts to thing that Norman is a rather unintelligent animal. It does not really matter though, because the boy and his parents love Norman anyway.
   Then one day Norman and his master go to the dog park where they meet a friendly black dog. The black dog’s owner calls out and both Norman and the black dog go to him. When the man speaks to the two dogs they do exactly what he tells them to. The boy can hardly believe his eyes. He goes over to the man and realizes that he is not speaking English. The man explains that Norman understands Chinese! It turns out that Norman is smarter than anyone thought.
   In this charming picture book we meet a family that adopts a dog only to discover that their initial assessment of him was woefully incorrect. Their dog knows how to do all kind s of things and now they have to find a way to communicate with him. It is wonderful to see how hard they work to solve this problem and how things work out in the end. 

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