Books Crime, Thriller, Mysteries and Puzzles Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Mysterious Children and Creatures Who Happen to Be More Than What They Seem

Meet Tippy, Petra, and Perfectly Norman


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

These three delightful picturebooks feature unique characters who, while seemingly-ordinary, are actually more than what they initially appear to be. It is this mysterious, existential conundrum that ties these narratives together.

Tippy And The Night Parade

A Toon Book Written and Illustrated by Lilli Carré
Published by Toon Books (2014)
ISBN: 1935179578 (ISBN13: 9781935179573). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The first few pages introduce the reader to a messy Tippy whose room seems like a jungle of sorts with varied animals hiding in the blanket, under the beds, or poking their heads in her bedroom window, not to mention the assortment of odds and ends including shells and leaves scattered here and there.

Tippy’s mother helps her clear out the mess, and eventually tucks her neatly into bed. Yet, Tippy claims that she has no recollection whatsoever as to what or who made the mess in her room. She claimed that all she could remember is falling deeply asleep.

As the story progresses, it appears that our mysterious Tippy may just be a sleepwalker. As she hops across lily pads, tumbles through trees, and slips into holes, creatures seem to follow her around until she circles back into her own bedroom.

I love the panels in this toon book – an early introduction to comics for young children. I also like the ethereal, mysterious quality of Tippy, the dream-walker, whose messy bedroom, I am sure most kids will be able to identify with. Who knows? They may be little sleepwalkers, too!

Perfectly Norman

Written and Illustrated by Tom Percival
Published by Bloomsbury (2017)
ISBN: 1408880962 (ISBN13: 9781408880968). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The first thing that struck me about this picturebook was the brilliant and vivid colours, and the initial monochromatic hues when Norman still did not know that there was something special inside of him, waiting for just the right moment, to appear on his back.

This is a story of a young boy who, when he discovered that he was different, embraced it and flew into the heavens in glee:

However, as he faced the prospect of telling his parents and his friends about this new, multi-coloured thing that grew on his back, he felt very apprehensive. So, he decided to hide his true self by wearing a yellow coat wherever he goes.

He wears this coat everywhere – be it at the swimming pool, rain or shine, or while having meals with his family. He never takes it off. Everyone is now puzzled as to why the once-vibrant Norman seemed elusive, secretive, and mysterious, forever huddled in his jacket. Until he realized something very important:

It was not really his wings that was the problem; it was the cumbersome yellow jacket that he felt compelled to wear wherever he went. I love how this story can be pulled into different dimensions and interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on who is reading it. It is a powerfully allegorical tale of shedding off appearances, and embracing one’s rainbow-coloured self, while flying off into the heavens in joy.


Written and Illustrated by Marianna Coppo
Published by Tundra Books NY (2018)
ISBN: 0735262675 (ISBN13: 9780735262676). Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This picturebook begins with Petra’s seeming-impenetrability and immovability:

The blank spaces in this book suggest the creator’s attention to detail and design. There seems to be a definitive quality to Petra, an assurance of a clear identity that is not really questioned. This certainty, however, is questioned when out of the blue, a dog appears and takes Petra into his mouth, while fetching his stick:

Petra then becomes transformed into a disposable rock, a pebble, an egg, an island:

Yet, instead of being depressed and catastrophizing, Petra learns to adjust, taking these twists and turns in stride:

There are a lot of potential philosophical and existential questions that can be raised through this picturebook in the hands of a skilled teacher, parent, facilitator. Do you stop being who you think you are if those around you perceive you differently? The tension between being and becoming is fully captured in this deceptively-simple tale of a rock, that is clearly more than just one.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: Lilli Carré is based in the US, Tom Percival is from the UK, and Marianna Coppo is from Italy.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

11 comments on “[Monday Reading] Mysterious Children and Creatures Who Happen to Be More Than What They Seem

  1. I love the illustrations and the use of colors in Perfectly Norman.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so want to read Perfectly Norman and Petra now–both new to me. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I thought Petra was filled with philosophical musings, too, could be used for a wide range of ages. Love hearing about the others, Myra. They seem very well done. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What fun books. Petra is adorable. Seems very deep as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jana Eschner

    Petra is a great book for exploring point of view and imagination for kids. I have had Perfectly Norman on my list for a while, but have never gotten around to checking it out. I’ll need to look around for it. Thanks for sharing and have a terrific week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like the artwork in Perfectly Norman and hope to read it very soon. I’ve also not yet read Petra, so than you for sharing! Have a wonderful reading week, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sarah Sammis

    Tippy and the Night Parade as well as Petra are on my wishlist. My weekly updates

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Petra was such a cute picture book, perfect to pair with a craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Perfectly Norman’s illustrations are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow I love the illustrations for Perfectly Norman, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. all look so wonderful, especially enjoyed the illustrations for Perfectly Norman…

    Liked by 1 person

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