What first captures your attention is Perfectly Norman’s bright—seriously bright—cover and the clever, effective use of colour contrasted against shades of grey in the illustrations. Secondly, you’ll fall in love with the tender story. I can understand the apprehension that Norman feels when he discovers that he’s strikingly different to other children. I can understand why he hides his difference, fearful that someone will discover it, even his parents. It’s not a trivial difference after all—Norman grows wings. They’re elegant and graceful. He sees how extraordinary and exciting they are, in the beginning. Yet, because it’s not ‘normal’ for a child to have wings, he covers them. His mood changes from a vibrant, happy child, to someone who is withdrawn, cautious. Norman’s wings represent any difference our children may have. The yellow coat he hides them under embodies the many emotions that accompany a fear of being accepted. Will Norman shed his feathers or does he find the courage to be true, leap into the air and fly free?
Perfect—can it really be defined? I use it to describe a lot of things which I determine without flaw, yet another may find fault. Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of children about the beauty in their differences, and that while they succeed and fail, make mistakes and learn, they are still without equal. They are unique—they are perfectly them. We’re not made from cookie cutters, we’re not meant to be exactly alike. Even in terms of gender, there are no specifics or plan that we have to follow. Difference is beautiful and perfectly perfect.