Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story

NOT NORMAN a Goldfish Story
by Kelly Bennett
illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

About the book:
Norman the goldfish wasn’t exactly what this boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet- one that could run and catch, or chase strings and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Not Norman. But when he tries to trade Norman he comes to realize he may be a better friend than he thought.

Before Reading:
If you could have any pet you wanted what would it be? What would you and your pet do together? What kind of care would your pet need?

Questions to consider:

  1. Describe the kind of pet the boy would like to have.
  2. Why does Norman need more water for his bowl?
  3. Explain what happened during show and tell.
  4. Why does the boy have to stay for extra music practice?
  5. What happens during the night?
6. What’s the best part of having a pet? What’s the hardest part?
7. Which part of the book is your favorite? Why?
8. Have you ever changed your mind about something or someone? When? Why?
  1. Norman listens when others don’t. When you’re scared who do you talk to?
  2. What do pets do for us? What do we do for our pets?

Projects Across the Curriculum:

Language Arts:

Describe your pet in at least five complete sentences. Try to use as many of your senses as you can in your work. For example: My pet smells like lavender shampoo. For a challenge: do not tell us what type of pet you have in your sentences. Also don’t use any of these words in your description: bark, purr, or fur!

Write the story of how you came to own your pet (real or imaginary).

Show and Tell: Since most schools won’t allow pets in for visitation, create posters about your pets. If you don’t have one, can create an imaginary one (anybody want a dragon?) or highlight a family or friends pet that they love. Include such information as the pet’s birthday, favorite food, height, weight, and favorite game. Introduce the pet posters to each other.


Study the shapes that make up Norman. Using orange construction paper cut out a Norman without drawing the shapes first. Don’t forget to add his eye! Was this easy to do?

Use a paper plate to create Norman’s fish bowl. Then, attach the Norman created above onto the plate and cover with wax paper, clear contact paper, or overhead film.

Given the three primary colors, experiment with mixing colors until the color of Norman is discovered. Paint a large paper and then practice cutting Norman (or another animal) out again.

Use the same shape techniques to create a paper-cut portrait of your own pet.


Sing this song (and then practice it in a round) to the tune “row, row, row your boat”

Love, love, love
your pets
love them every day.
Give them food, water and baths
then let them
run and play.

“Bom bom bom baaaa Ba ba boooo Bo bobo beee” is the sound the boy’s tuba makes. Create sounds for the other instruments in an orchestra: trumpet, French horn, clarinet, flute, violin, drum.


Because fish need to be in a neutral environment, introduce the concept of acids and bases to students by having them test various familiar liquids with litmus strips. Some liquids you might test: bottled water, perfume, lemonade, soda, coffee and milk. Let students make a hypothesis about each liquid and then record their results.

Math: See graph on following page

            by Kelly Bennett   Illus: Noah Z. Jones

Ask at least 30 friends, classmates and family about which type of pet they own and graph the results here.

print the kind of pet in the graph

This teacher guide was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a reading specialist and author of the poetry book Sketches from a Spy Tree. Visit her site to find dozens of other guides to great children’s literature!