I’m thrilled share two educators’ guides for This is Not a Normal Animal Book, written by Julie Segal-Walters and illustrated by Brian Biggs.
This is Not a Normal Animal Book begins as a stroll through common, everyday, normal animals – mammal, bird, amphibian, insect, reptile, and fish. The story quickly evolves, however, into a meta-fiction disagreement between the author and illustrator over how to draw the animals. The author wants simple, normal animal drawings. The illustrator, however, is confused and makes a bit of a mess. From a cat, to a hen, to a frog, to a bee, to a snake, the illustrator grows increasingly frustrated over how the author wants each animal presented. The conflict reaches its peak when the illustrator refuses to draw the author’s choice of fish. Granted, the blobfish is an unusual choice of fish. The illustrator’s sense of humor and author’s deadpan seriousness come full circle in the closing line, when the author continues to frustrate the illustrator until the very end, and the illustrator continues to have the last word.
Based on a Yiddish proverb, the book is a behind-the-scenes look at the picture book creation process, the importance of collaboration and compromise, and the beauty of both words and art. This is Not a Normal Animal Book is a commercial story that breaks the fourth wall, while still remaining appropriate for classroom use. In addition to the themes and concepts mentioned, it also highlights the literary device metafiction and includes nonfiction back matter.