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Norman, Speak!

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  72 reviews
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 command
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Groundwood Books
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  287 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Brilliant. The adopted dog from the animal shelter doesn't understand "Sit" and "Come." The family concludes that he is just not very smart, but he is friendly and funny and they love him anyway.

A chance encounter at the dog park reveals that Norman understands Chinese, so the family starts taking Chinese lessons. Chinese is difficult, and they conclude that they are just not very smart, although friendly and funny.

With some perseverance, communication is established, and everyone is
Edward Sullivan
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Dog understands Chinese but family who adopts him doesn't speak the language. Charming story, delightful illustrations.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A charming read for kids 4+ with a lovely message about dog adoption and multiculturalism.
It is confusing how the author keeps saying that the dog speaks Chinese - it may mislead readers who don't know about the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very smart dog that doesn't understand his new owner. Amusing and delightful.
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-studies
The little boy and his family go to the animal shelter to pick out a dog, but they are overwhelmed with the sheer number of animals waiting for adoption. How can they ever pick the just one? The boy decides they should choose the saddest dog, so they ask which dog is been there the longest and they take him home. The dog's name is Norman, and it seems Norman doesn't know how to do anything. He doesn't respond to any commands, but his tail sure does a happy hula wag.

The family decides that Norma
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it
My uncle is Chinese and he speaks Mandarin. I didn't think that there was a "Chinese" language but rather several different languages spoken in China, with Mandarin being the official national language. Also, as a dog owner, I just can't make the leap that a family would learn to speak a foreign language in order to give commands to their dog. The family could just learn a few choice words in the foreign language or they could retrain the dog with new commands which is not a hard thing to do. I ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have had a few dogs from the animal shelter and you never know what their previous life was. This is a fun imagining of Norman's past.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Norman, Speaks is a fun, relatable book for children with pets. It sends the message that despite differences and challenges, it is important to love your loved ones. I enjoyed the multiculturalism in this book. The family finds out that Norman can only speak Chinese, so throughout the story, the family is trying to learn Chinese in order to help teach the dog how to behave. Along they way, they encounter challenges just like Norman. Because of the language represented throughout, I believe this ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A young boy chooses the saddest dog at the shelter for a pet. No matter what they try, Norman doesn't respond to commands. One day, a gentleman at dog park speaks to his dog and Norman responds too. Norman understands Chinese. The family takes classes so they can communicate with Norman; it's hard work.
Discuss how someone feels when they don't speak the language or understand a situation.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
copyright: 2014
genre: realistic fiction
theme: love, bond, language
My favorite part of this book is the message of it- it means a lot to try and communicate with someone to be their friend.
I would use this book to show kids that a little bit of effort can mean the world to someone.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun. I like it.
Lily Avila
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teachandlearn307
Genre: bilingual
Copyright date: 2014
Adopted dog isn't very smart, but turns out he is very smart. Adorable, really made me smile.
Jacquelyn D'Eall Sundberg
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-bests
I am biased by being the owner of a spectacular dog named Norman, but this book is engaging, promoted understanding, and touches on one of the peculiarities of owning and loving a dog. 🐕
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book about family, love, and learning something new. I loved this book and the idea behind the story. A good read aloud book!
Copyright: 2013
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A boy and his family adopt a dog from the animal shelter. The boy has a hard time choosing a dog and finally decides to take Norman, because he’s been there the longest. Norman was a stray and doesn’t really have a tail, more of a stump, but he can wag it along with his entire backside. Once they got home, they discovered that Norman did not follow basic dog commands at all. He just tilted his head sideways and didn’t do anything. The family realized that Norman was just not smart, but at least ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it
“Bark, George” and “Martha Speaks” come to mind but this story quickly takes a different storyline and is more realistic This supportive family seems to value learning, as they want to learn Chinese, and are often shown with papers, books, and studying at desks. Interesting that the dog has a name but the boy does not.
There are jumps in the storyline, that an early elementary child may not grasp, I even found myself going back to see if I missed a page, such as when they tell Chinese teacher ab
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Title: Norman, Speak
Author: Caroline Adderson
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Plot Summary: This is a fun and adventerous book about a boy and his family who adopt a dog. After a little while the boy realizes that the dog either isn't well trained or that there is some reason that he won't listen. He comes to find out the previous owner(s) spoke Chinese! Knowing this, he and his parents take up Chinese classes at a nearby church so they can speak to their dog properly.

Literary Merit: Cultural implicatio
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Really enjoyed this story.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When their newly adopted dog doesn't understand any of their commands, the boy and his family decide that he isn't very smart. But Norman is fun and friendly, so they love him anyway. Through a chance encounter with another dog owner in the park, the find out that Norman IS a smart dog -- he just knows the commands in Chinese! The family enrolls in Chinese classes so that they can communicate with their dog, and have a hard time learning the language. But together they work hard so they can tell ...more
Karen Arendt
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story! A young boy goes to the pound to adopt a dog and choose Norman because he is the saddest looking dog and has been there the longest. After a week or so the family is decides the dog is not very smart because he doesn't respond to command like sit and com here. When they see Norman responding to a man in the park who has a dog, they realize that Norman understands Chinese. I added the immigration tag to this book because what the boy and his parents experience trying to learn ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
A family adopts a shelter dog who proves to be sweet though unresponsive to commands. While at the park, the family finds out that their dog understands Chinese. They decide to take Chinese lessons so that they can communicate with their sweet pooch. Though the lessons are difficult, the family perseveres so that they can talk to their smart, sweet dog.

Minor complaints: This is a pretty long book! If I were using this as a read aloud to a group of students, I would certainly finds a way to brea
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I thought this was a cute story that teaches a few charming values and ideals that I hope my son will possess. Not only does it encourage children to adopt but the young boy on the book also chose the dog that had been in he shelter the longest. Knowing how often animals who have been at shelters for extended periods are overlooked, I hope this encourages more children to follow suit. I also adore that the family overcomes their initial thought that the dog is just not smart and I believe that s ...more
Samantha Ray
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book would be appropriate for Preschool to Second Grade. About a family who adopts a dog, but has a hard time listening to their commands. One day at a dog park, they are stunned to find out that Norman the dog only knows Chinese and not English. To understand their dog better, the family enrolls in Chinese learning class.

An activity to go along with this book would be for students to learn a few commands in another language. Another activity would be for students to think about and write w
When a boy and his family adopt a dog from the animal shelter, the boy loves him even though he's clearly not very smart. After all, Norman doesn't respond to any of their commands. When they realize why he hasn't been responding, Norman's human companions are the ones that don't feel very smart. The text and the illustrations, drawn in ink and colored digitally, are sure to make readers question their own assumptions about how animals communicate and just how smart humans are in comparison to a ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: k-2nd, animals-dogs
Age: Kindergarten-2nd grade
Multicultural: Learning Chinese

There were some very endearing parts of this book including Norman the mutt dog's hula dance of happiness, where he shakes his stump tail and his butt moves along with it. And I loved that the dog spoke Chinese so he didn't understand English commands. But there were some really awkward moments including a defeatist dad that throws a paper airplane in a class full of kids to make them laugh for some reason. There's also a lot of harping o
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! A family gets a new dog from the pound called Norman who does a delightly giggly rump-wiggly dance every time he's happy to see his family but no matter how hard they try to train him, Norman fails to obey. He's not very bright, they think. But imagine the family's surprise when they discover that the problem is that Norman speaks Chinese! what happens next? Read the book to find out the whimsically delicious ending! Qin Leng's illustrations perfectly match the charm and whimsy of Add ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-to-maverick
A boy and his family learn to speak Chinese after realizing the dog they adopted understands Chinese.
Kristina Jean Lareau
I really enjoyed this story of a Chinese-speaking dog that everyone assumed was really dumb, but just didn't understand English. While the story is innocent enough with a nice little lesson "that's not why we love him anyway", this would make a great jumping off for discussions about how people whose first language is not English are treated. This dynamic picturebook accomplishes a lot in 32 pages.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
A book I wanted to like more than I did: dog is a shelter dog (like my own!) and understands Chinese, not English. Family tries to learn some Chinese so they can communicate with their dog. For some reason, it just fell flat for me. Illustrations weren't my favorite. A nice story to have in the arsenal, though, particularly since there are quite a few Chinese-speaking children around (some of whom have been adopted themselves).
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
A boy and his family are at lost with the behavior of a dog that they have just adopted from an animal shelter. Little did they know that the dog only understood Chinese. Everyone starts taking Chinese lessons on Saturday mornings in the basement of a church. Even with the difficulty that everyone had learning the language, the family continued with their lessons because they loved Norman (the dog) so much.

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Caroline Adderson grew up in Alberta. After traveling around Canada, she moved to B.C. to go to university and has mostly lived there ever since. She started writing seriously after university, eventually going on to write two internationally published novels (A History of Forgetting and Sitting Practice) and two collections of short stories for adults (Bad Imaginings and Pleased To Meet You). Whe ...more

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