This is something I just didn’t realize as a child. No one bothered to tell me that I was responsible for my own path in life, my own success. I thought life was something that just happened to you, something that you couldn’t control. Becoming a scientist, a mathematician or an astronaut never entered the realm of possibility for me. I didn’t see it for other women, so I didn’t imagine it for myself.
It’s so important for young girls to witness the extraordinary achievements of other women. That’s why I love picture book biographies like The Mermaid Queen by Corey/Fotheringham and Ada Byron Lovelace and The Thinking Machine by Wallmark/Chu. They tell the stories of women who achieved despite the odds, besides being told they couldn’t or shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, I don’t write picture book biographies. I do fiction. Silly, hilarious, laugh-out-loud, ludicrous fiction.
When the idea for Normal Norman shot into my head, in title alone, I immediately knew that this perfectly-named creature could not be normal, not in the least bit. And to amp up his antics, I paired him with more than just an inquisitive child—I pit him against a junior scientist with an important assignment, to demonstrate the word “normal” for the book’s readers. And that scientist happens to be a young girl. (While she isn’t named in the book, in my head I call her Marisol. Shhh, don’t tell, that’s a secret.)
She examines everything about Norman: his body, his home, his eating and sleeping habits. Even his route of escape. And nothing turns out right.
Or does it?
I think everything turns out just fine. Norman and his friends prove to be their Normal selves. And the junior scientist completes her assignment with flying colors—literally!
In this book I’m not only showing that normal is impossible to define, I’m also showing young girls that they can do anything. They can be scientists, they can be intelligent and question the world around them. Hey, they can even be a picture book author…like me!
Tara Lazar is an American children's author and founder of the annual PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) challenge. Tara's books include I Thought This Was A Bear Book and Little Red Gliding Hood. Her latest picture book is Normal Normal, illustrated by S Britt and published by Sterling Children's Books. Visit Tara's website and Facebook page for more information about her books and writing projects.
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