I have had a wide variety of pets in my life, from horses to lizards (and so much in between) and I can well imagine the disappointment felt when receiving a pet for the first time and realizing it is not the kind you had hoped it was going to be. Kelly Bennett’s story Not Norman: A Goldfish Story is about a young boy who gets a goldfish, named Norman, for his birthday. He is not excited because he wants a pet to sleep with at night or one who can play ball with him. He makes a plan to clean Norman’s bowl and trade him at show-and-tell, but as he starts to care for Norman, he notices what a great pet and friend Norman really is. The phrase, not Norman, is repeated throughout the story which is very engaging for younger readers. My son loves to shout out Not Norman, every time we read it.

This story connects well to readers as many have pets or if they don’t they can connect to the idea of preconceived ideas of someone or something, I love how Bennett took this concept and turned it into such a relatable story. Noah Z. Jones’ illustrations are bright and bold. The main character is a young African American boy, which is brilliant because it brings a diverse character into the story in such a relatable plotline. Love this!