Norman, Speak! tells the comical yet thought-provoking story of a boy and his family who adopt a dog that just can’t seem to learn the things other dogs do.
Overwhelmed by dogs in need at their local animal shelter, a young boy chooses Norman, the stray that’s been there the longest. But, upon bringing him home, the family quickly learns that Norman won’t respond to commands. He doesn’t even know his own name.
During a chance encounter with another dog owner in the park, the family is very surprised to learn the reason for Norman’s confusion; he “speaks” Chinese instead of English! And so the family enrolls in a language class, determined to understand their uniquely loveable pet.
The humorous text, from award-winning author Caroline Adderson, and Qin Leng’s delightful illustrations combine to create a picture book that will be enjoyed by readers (and dogs) no matter what language they speak.
CAROLINE ADDERSON is an award-winning author of books for children and adults. Her work for adults has been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her middle-grade novel, Middle of Nowhere, won the Sheila E. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and was shortlisted for the CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award. She is also the author of the enormously successful Jasper John Dooley series.
Caroline is program director of the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and received the APALA Award for best picture book. Her recent books include The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin, as well as Away by Emil Sher and A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, which were both selected for USBBY’s Outstanding International Books List.
There are lessons here—about patience as well as intercultural understanding—but they’re very lightly worn, and the casual line of the ink-and-color illustrations reminds us that this is a warm family story most of all.
Throughout this lovely story, it is clear that the boy and his parents love Norman just as he is. Simple ink drawings set against ample white space make the endearing dog come alive on paper. This title will be a surefire hit with children.
Pet lovers will appreciate this family’s lighthearted journey toward making this relationship succeed.
This is a delightful and whimsically illustrated book. Recommended.
This is a fresh and original take on the new-pet story that provides a gentle little paradigm shift along with its slight absurdity; the family’s genial embrace of their new dog’s language is both humorous . . . and offhandedly heartwarming.
Caroline Adderson and Qin Leng’s Norman, Speak! is a timeless story about a boy and his dog with a twist appropriate to today’s audience.