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Not Norman: A Goldfish Story
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Not Norman: A Goldfish Story

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  589 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
"A sweet story that could be used as a springboard to discussion of the pitfalls of making snap judgments about pets — or people." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Norman the goldfish isn’t what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet — one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Definitely not
Paperback, 32 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Candlewick Press (first published February 3rd 2005)
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Oct 29, 2008 Zack rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Great story about the simple pleasures of life. Text is short enough and pictures big enough to try out in storytime.
Anna Summers
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story is about a boy who really wanted a soft, furry pet that he could play with and sleep with. When the boy receives a pet goldfish, Norman, for his birthday, he is not very enthused. The boy tries to think of ways to trade his pet goldfish for a different pet, but in the process realizes that he has grown to love his pet very much. This sweet story depicts the unconditional love that a person has for their pet. It is a great book that can be used to teach children that ...more
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sunny stylized digital images and giggle-inducing grins, grimaces and gestures make a disgruntled pet-owner’s gradual shift in perspective an entertaining example of rejection, reflection and imagination.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.
Pat (Get Kids to Read) Tierney
Not Norman

Not Norman is a simple short picture book perfect for children in grades K-2. It tells the story of a little boy who receives a gold fish as a pet but wanted something that can run, jump and cuddle. He decides to try to convince his friends to take Norman but learns how much he likes having a gold fish along the way.
There is nothing extremely unique about this book. This is a good book to borrow from the library.
I loved this book! Non-furry pets have never been championed with picture book lit the same way that "Clifford" and "Pete the Cat" have, so they may seem boring to kids who wanted a puppy or a pony. What do fish DO, anyway? Luckily, Norman lets us know that fish can be pretty awesome. Super cute illustrations, humorous writing, and the protagonist has dark skin and an afro. Five stars in my book.
Zoraida Rivera Morales
We don't have to like what others like or imitate others. Norman is his own person. Nice book for small kids.
Crystal MacNamee
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story
by Kelly Bennett
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
CBC Children's Choice (No year given)
Published in 2005

This story is about a boy and a fish. They come together at the boy's birthday party after he had asked his parents for a pet. The boy's parents meant well but the boy will not accept Norman as a pet. He tries to trade him away for a puppy the first chance he gets. A puppy would be much better. He introduces Norman at a show and tell to drum up some interest. He plans t
Courtney Canino
Jun 22, 2012 Courtney Canino rated it it was amazing
Not Norman A Goldfish Story is a charming children's book that would be best for a kindergartner or first grader, so primary. The main characters in this book are Norman the goldfish, and his owner who is not named. His owner is a little boy who is 8 and is a 2nd grader. The point of View of this book is through the eyes of Norman's owner. The setting is an average young boy's life at his home and school. The plot of this story is that Norman's owner receives Norman as a birthday gift, even thou ...more
Kathleen Hoellerich
Mar 20, 2015 Kathleen Hoellerich rated it it was amazing
Not Norman, A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones is a brightly colorful children’s book about a boy and his new pet. The boy does not want his new pet fish that he got for his birthday at first. He wanted a pet that he could play with or through a ball for. The boy finds little things that the fish does endearing but reminds the fish that he is not going to keep him. The boy ends up realizing what a loyal friend a fish can. The boy decides that there is no other pet ...more
Katelyn Patterson
Dec 13, 2015 Katelyn Patterson rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebook
Publisher: Candlewick

picture book

For his 8th birthday, a little boy gets a goldfish named Norman as a pet. Unfortunately, he wanted a more exciting pet. One who could play catch and curl up on his bed at night. Not Norman.

When the little boy decides to trade Norman in for a good pet, he cleans up Norman's bowl and takes him to school for show-and-tell. If he talks him up, maybe one of his classmates will want him! Before the little boy gets around to taking Norman back to the pet store, he comes
Sarah (Books Before Bandaids)
Jul 21, 2016 Sarah (Books Before Bandaids) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Kelly Bennet’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 love ...more
Daniel Middleton
Oct 14, 2014 Daniel Middleton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Who hasn't experienced the heart of this story on some level: you have negative preconceived notions of a situation, person, or thing before you give it a chance and, with time, those notions turn out to be wrong once you undergo a slow change of heart. Not Norman is a profound illustrated allegory that will teach your children to look beneath the surface to discover the beauty in many things. Kelly Bennett has written a true treasure that is sure to stand the test of time.

The artwork, meanwhile
Feb 08, 2017 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clear, clear-group, 2017
Disclaimer: I don't speak Spanish and I don't claim to be able to read or write Spanish. That said, this appears to be a fairly competent Spanish Language translation of Kelly Bennett's Not Norman, a story about un pez muy especial! Purchase where demand warrants.
Mar 25, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars
I have been really blessed today in reading 4 really good books! I just bought a new fish after living about 9 months without a new one. I was tired of my fish so when he died...I was over it. The one at the library died...and I was just DONE! But the other day I bought a new tank on a local facebook yard sale page, and thought okay time to get a new fish. He is a beta, blue and unnamed. I also for the first time have bought a baby betta...we will see it grow.

This books has nice pictures and an
The illustrations are bright and bold and beautiful and the text simple. This is a wonderful story about a boy and his fish and the growing affection between boy and pet. When the boy receives Norman as a birthday gift, he is disappointed -he didn't want a stupid fish, he wanted a pet that could play catch and curl up on his bed at night. The story contains a number of very funny attempts to trade Norman for a "good" pet which are laugh-out-loud good. When the boy does get a chance to t ...more
Library Quine
A fun tale about a boy who is given a fish for his birthday when what he really wants is a cat or a dog. He sets about talking up his fish so that he can offload his fish on someone else. The plan fails and the two share a number of experiences that bring boy and fish together. Eventually the boy gets the opportunity to swop his fish, but will he? The illustrations are simple and humorous and enhance the story.
Texas Institute of Letters Friends of the Austin Public Library’s Best Children
Oct 22, 2013 Zack rated it it was amazing
A story of a boy who's not happy with what he has. Everybody else has something better and he wishes he could have what they have. His pet doesn't do tricks or can't be cuddled with. It's just a boring old fish. Over time he learns to love him and see what the good the things are about Norman until ultimately he decides that even if he could he wouldn't trade him for anything, "not Norman". I love this story because it has fun illustrations and shows kids to give things a chance and you just mig ...more
Megan Renner
Apr 08, 2014 Megan Renner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: etl-2368
Bennet, K. (2005). Not norman a goldfish story. Cambridge, MA, Candlewick Press.
At the beginning of the story a little boy received a goldfish named Norman, but he wanted a different pet besides a fish. He ends up taking the fish to school with him and through out the day the fish does things that make him see like a good pet but the little boy tells him each time, just because you did that does not mean I am going to keep you. Eventually he has the chance to get a new pet, but ends up keeping
Hanna Mammo
Apr 07, 2014 Hanna Mammo rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents/teacher of children aged birth-7
A great story of friendship and of making the wrong judgment of people. This story is of a average little boy that want a pet for his birthday so his parents got him Norman the fish who was not what he was looking for. The young boy starts out dislike Norman not even giving him a chance and constantly ask for another pet, until one day Norman is misplaced and the boy suddenly realize how much he has grow to like and care for Norman.This book would be great to use as an example for writing. The t ...more
Maggie Burgess
Nov 21, 2015 Maggie Burgess rated it it was ok
Cute story about a boy and his fish, but not realistic at all, in my opinion. (Sounds silly, I know.) But could my students who might want a pet relate to this? I don't think so. My students wanting a "real" pet, if they got a fish, would be dissatisfied. I don't think the fish "listening" to them talk or play music would change their minds. I would think about using it to teach not jumping to conclusions or about giving second chances, but I'd rather use picture books about giving people second ...more
May 03, 2008 Luann rated it really liked it
The front cover screams "Read me!" and the story inside doesn't disappoint. A boy is not happy when he gets a pet fish for his birthday. He wanted a pet who could run and catch. All Norman the fish does is swim around and around and around. He decides he's going to trade Norman in for a better pet. But first he cleans his bowl and takes Norman to show-and-tell at school. Norman remains calm through several adventures, is a good listener, and even sings along during music class. This would be a g ...more
Megan MacDonald
Jan 28, 2011 Megan MacDonald rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fun-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Tournas
Translation of Not Norman: A Goldfish Story. Originally published in English in 2005, this book has been a staple of my story times over the years. A little boy gets a goldfish named Norman for his birthday, when what he really wanted was a dog. But after a series of adventures together, including a sousaphone lesson and scary night noises, the boy decides that Norman is a great pet after all. The text is written in simple, clear first person narration and features an African American kid. The d ...more
Simina Albaiu
Sep 30, 2015 Simina Albaiu rated it really liked it
This was a really enjoyable, easy read about how people (or animals, in this case) may not always be what they seem to appear. The book shares the story of a little boy who wants a new pet and ends up with a goldfish, Norman. He is so unimpressed with Norman and wants to immediately trade him in for another pet. However, as he gets to know his new buddy, Norman, he realizes that he is actually pretty funny, protective, and a good friend to have. It is written in very simple terms and the illustr ...more
A boy disappointed in the goldfish he received as a gift is determined to get rid of him; through a series of minor crises, however, he realizes that Norman the fish is a good listener and a faithful friend, and decides he wouldn’t trade him for any pet in the world. The simple lines and large areas of color in the digitally-rendered illustrations match the tone of the story and draw attention to the cheerful, big-eyed goldfish. Not Norman is a fun read-aloud for Pet Day, units on pets, or discu ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
This is a charming book about learning gratitude. It's really easy for students to be ungrateful for things you give them initially especially when an idea was already made in their minds. I would use this book in explaining how rules are important. Initially, rules can seem dull and restricting. I would ask my students how they think the class would run without rules; then, we would try it out for an hour of the day. The goal would be for the students to see how much rules really are helpful an ...more
Oct 16, 2008 Greta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks

We have goldfish. We can't have cats, I'm allergic. We don't want messy gerbils or hamsters and you know what happens with rabbits even if you think they're both the same gender--they never are. I would love to have a dog, sort of except I don't want to clean up after it. So, we have goldfish. At least we use to. We had goldfish for two years until we donated them to the kids school and they died overnight. Maybe they missed us.
Apr 03, 2009 Christine rated it really liked it
"Not Norman" was a fun read aloud in the library this week. The illustrations are simple but colorful and full of expression. I especially like Norman's face as he almost gets lapped up by a couple of puppies. It was fun to watch the transition on the boy's face from disappointment in getting a goldfish for his birthday to pleasure in having a perfect pet. Students voted as follows: Loved it=188, Just okay=12, Didn't like it=12.
Jessica P.
Jun 29, 2008 Jessica P. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grades K-3
Recommended to Jessica P. by: My Kindergarten Class
This is an adorable book about a boy who gets a new pet- a goldfish, when he would have liked to have a pet that actually DOES something- like a cat or a dog or a bird, like his other friends. Or even a lizard or a snake! So, the only thing he can think of to do is to trade him- but who will want his dumb goldfish, Norman??
Haley Sterritt
Don't judge a book by its cover is one lesson here. The little boy looks at the fish and thinks he is boring. However as the day goes along and he spends more times with him, he realizes he isn't all bad and learns to love his new friend. Also includes onomatopoeia and would be good for first or second grade readers.
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Kelly Bennett is author of books for children, mostly picture books including Character Counts Award winner ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING, slated to be the "Reading Takes You Everywhere" 2018 Illinois and beyond summer reading program book; VAMPIRE BABY, one of Bank Street College's Best Children's Book of 2014 & NOT NORMAN, A Goldfish Story, Jumpstart's Read for the Record® book for 2015!

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