Goldfish are not exactly exciting, and the boy in this story had dreamt of a different pet: "One who could run and catch. Or one who could climb trees and chase strings."
But alas, he's received Norman, "a sorry-looking fish in a gunky bowl." If he takes Norman to show-and-tell, will someone want to swap with him? No ... but soon Norman's quiet, reassuring presence is making the boy's heart flip. He decides he wouldn't trade Norman for "any pet in the whole world."
The phrase "Not Norman," bookmarks the story, and in a clever twist it means one thing at the beginning and just the opposite at the end.
In his first children's book, Jones' expressive illustrations of boy and fish accentuate the story's silly side. He depicts Norman blowing bubbles, smiling at the boy, boogeying to his tuba playing. The cover illustration plays with shapes-the boy's head mirrors the fishbowl's dimensions. As the boy peers through the bowl, we can see his eyes-and a floating Norman takes the place of his mouth and nose.
The author is quoted on the leaf: "Fish are fun and funny. Just watching them makes me laugh." She and Jones have succeeded, glug, glug, in communicating fondness for the humble goldfish.