Reading Roundup

What’s been on my desk for three weeks waiting for me to write about it? Norman and Brenda, by Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat.

This is what I’m talking about, people! Picture books should not be the exclusive property of four- to seven-year-olds. The picture book format works for all ages and for a broader range of purposes than publishers seem to realize. Here is more proof.

Norman and Brenda is a picture book for grown-ups. The publisher, Kane-Miller, bills it as a “family” book, but I think they’re forcing it into that category because they are publishers of “children’s books.” Even they don’t seem to fully grasp the idea that picture books can–and should–be more than children’s books.

The subtitle of this book is “The anti-heroes’ anti-heroes.” Norman and Brenda are thirty-seven.

Aside: Rule number 2.352.75f-and-a-half of children’s writing is the main characters must be kids.

Norman and Brenda are sad, lonely, boring, and unfortunate souls. Their lives are dull and dreary. The graffiti on the wall says, “Stop Trying” and “Failure is an Option.” They despair of ever finding happiness. And then they find each other.

I laughed at and loved this book. I can very quickly rattle off half-a-dozen people–adults–to whom I’d give this book as a gift. I wrack my brain and can’t think of a single child I’d want to give it to. If this book is displayed in the Children’s section of bookstores, it’s missing its audience.

Norman and Brenda was published in Australia. Woot, Australia! I’d love to see more teen, adult, senior, and family picture books published. We’re missing out on great stories and art by limiting picture books to four- to seven-year-olds.

Categories: Reading

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