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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Do you have a dream? Do you want to be something great, something that will make everyone notice you? Perhaps you’re too short or too slow. Perhaps you’re afraid of something that will impede your progress. Normal Norm by Chad Hayward describes somebody who has a dream. Norm wants to make the school basketball team and be the best player on the team. The only problem is that he is short. Whenever he plays with his cousins, they bully him and make him feel inconsequential. They even dub him Normal Norm, because they told him there was nothing special about him. There’s nothing worse than being just normal. On the day of the tryouts, Norm meets his fairy godmother. He doesn’t receive a fancy dress and glass slippers, but the magic he receives builds his confidence and helps him believe in his abilities. He’s practiced hard. He can do this.
Chad Hayward’s picture book Normal Norm is a clever, confidence-building story that weaves a magical tale much like those we all loved as children. Taking a young boy as the main character, the plot follows his dreams and aspirations as he works hard to achieve his goal of making it on the school basketball team. Hindered by bullying and harassment, Norm continues to work hard, not allowing the negativity of his adversaries to hold him back. Norm is a strong character, one who soon believes not only in himself but also in his ability. The story is told mostly in a descriptive narrative, much like the classic fairy tales we all love. The colorful illustrations help carry the story along. The setting in Masai Mara in Kenya is itself magical and helps readers appreciate the true beauty of Africa. Beautifully told and, like all good fairy tales, there is a message, a lesson to learn. Like Norm, we all need to believe in ourselves.