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Norman, Speak!

Written by Caroline Adderson

Illustrated by Qin Leng

  • 32 Pages
  • 9781554983223
  • from grade K to grade 2
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Dogs
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Pets
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / Adoption



Publication Date April 01, 2014

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 commands. He doesn’t even know his own name.

During a chance encounter with another dog owner in the park, the family is very surprised to learn the reason for Norman’s confusion; he “speaks” Chinese instead of English! And so the family enrolls in a language class, determined to understand their uniquely loveable pet.

The humorous text, from award-winning author Caroline Adderson, and Qin Leng’s delightful illustrations combine to create a picture book that will be enjoyed by readers (and dogs) no matter what language they speak.

Selected for the OLA Best Bets (Picture Books) 2015

Selected for the USBBY Outstanding International Book 2015

Short-listed for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize 2015

Short-listed for the Chocolate Lily Book Award (Picture Book) 2015


Caroline Adderson
Caroline Adderson is the author of award-winning books for adults and young readers. She has been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, two Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her children’s books include Jasper John Dooley, Left Behind (named a Best Children’s Book of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews), the picture book Norman, Speak! and her middle-grade novel, Middle of Nowhere, which won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and was shortlisted for the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award.

Qin Leng

Qin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. Throughout her career, Qin has illustrated picture books, magazines and book covers with publishers around the world. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, written by Chieri Uegaki, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the APALA Award for best picture book. Her most recent books include Happy Birthday, Alice Babette, written by Monica Kulling, and A Family Is a Family Is a Family, written by Sara O’Leary.


Star Review

"This is a fresh and original take on the new-pet story that provides a gentle little paradigm shift along with its slight absurdity; the family’s genial embrace of their new dog’s language is both humorous . . . and offhandedly heartwarming." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW

"Pet lovers will appreciate this family’s lighthearted journey toward making this relationship succeed." Kirkus Reviews

"Throughout this lovely story, it is clear that the boy and his parents love Norman just as he is. Simple ink drawings set against ample white space make the endearing dog come alive on paper. This title will be a surefire hit with children." School Library Journal

"Caroline Adderson and Qin Leng’s Norman, Speak! is a timeless story about a boy and his dog with a twist appropriate to today’s audience." CM Magazine

"There are lessons here—about patience as well as intercultural understanding—but they’re very lightly worn, and the casual line of the ink-and-color illustrations reminds us that this is a warm family story most of all." Horn Book

"This is a delightful and whimsically illustrated book. Recommended." Library Media Connections