Book Review: ‘Night Night, Norman’

Written by Marie Dimitrova and illustrated by Romi Caron

Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan

Night Night, Norman is a charming and an imaginative children’s book that explores what happens after we hug our horses goodnight. Although we may wonder what our horses do at night, Norman, “a very tall and large horse who lives in the corner stall of the Green Apple Barn,” wonders what Ellie, “a little girl who lives in the house next to the barn,” does when he goes to sleep.

The majority of the book follows the adventures of Norman as he explores the house where Ellie lives. From raiding the kitchen to testing out the furniture and the piano, Norman finds all kinds of trouble that will keep little ones engaged and entertained.

As an adult, I appreciated the creativity and imagination used in developing the storyline as well as the beautiful illustrations. As I read it, I could easily see how it would appeal to children.

Norman headed out for his nocturnal escapade. Illustraion by Romi Caron.

However, since I am not the target audience, I decided to bring in the experts: enter my eight and five year old daughters.

Ellis reading Night Night, Norman to Arden. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

Both girls enjoyed the book — so much so that my five-year-old asked me to read it to her again before bed. As a parent, I enjoy books that create opportunities for discussion, even if it is of the silly or whimsical variety. The storyline kept my kids laughing and created plenty of opportunities to prompt my children on what Norman might do next and about the trouble he was getting into. This allowed them to engage with the text and do more than passively listen.

One of the additional features that makes this book engaging for kids is that at the end it gives directions on how to draw Norman. Although my five-year-old isn’t quite to that point, it kept my eight-year-old busy for a while as she worked on developing her horse drawing skills (of course she had to turn Norman into Lilly and make him into a unicorn).

Ellis’s adaptation of Norman. Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan.

The story was inspired by Marie Dimitrova’s own horse, Norman. Marie grew up in Southern California, riding and competing. At night she would always dream about what Norman would do while she was sleeping. Night Night, Norman is based on the funny, affectionate horse she cared for so much.

This is a book we definitely will keep on the shelf to reread before the kids go to bed or when they’re in the mood for a story.

Night Night, Norman will be available from Hello World Publishing on October 20, 2020. You can pre-order here.