Norm and Burny Book Review: New Year fun for 7 & up

Hi, all, Happy New Year! I have a great book for parents of children who might need a little push learning to think before acting, an important part of learning to set goals, something most of us do every January and ought to do a lot more often.

Beware though. There’s opposition in all things for a reason. I just hope your kids are better than mine were (and better than I am) at learning through somebody else’s mistakes. If not, at least they’ll have an awesome adventure learning about somebody else’s mistakes!

Take a look at the blurb and ask yourself, “What would you do?”

Well, what I did was read the book! So here’s my review.

Norm and Burny: The Black Square (Volume 1)Norm and Burny: The Black Square by Jay Hosler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The black square app ate my first review of Norm and Burny. At least I think I saw a little black square flash when I thought I hit the publish button on Goodreads. My entire review disappeared, so the evil got away into cyberspace! I’m being more careful this time, writing without the black square knowing, I hope until it’s too late to kill my review.

I remember the difficult age of longing for pictures in books that didn’t have them. Of course, I learned to imagine, but that depended on an author’s skill at description. Norm and Burney was great in that it had both imaginative descriptions and nice pictures. Bonus!

How about the story? At first, the adventures didn’t seem like more than a game, although a dangerous one. Then the app showed its dark side and things went very wrong. Without spoiling, let’s just say Norm’s dog seemed like the smartest character until another made things even more interesting. Like puppy love with wild magic. All-important for a children’s book, the plot arc was complete with a happy ending and a bonus preview of book two thrown in.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for advanced readers of seven and up as long as they’re in good company to keep from getting too scared. By age nine, they shouldn’t need to hide under the bed like I did reading about Tolkien’s ring wraiths. This book has age appropriate excitement.

Notes from an editor’s perspective: The story is original and well told from a strong narrator’s point of view, the only way that point of view switches don’t seem like head-hopping. And cheers for the editing with only a few mistakes other than commas. Although the beginning might have been stronger for some adults with more foreshadowing, the authors stuck with a better progression for their target audience and me—unpredictable and wild. Burny tried to guide his clueless master in a safe path, and Norm ignored his advice—or where would the adventure be?

Norm and Burney might be 4 stars for adults used to adult books, but for children’s books, I base my rating on the target age group. 5 stars. Highly recommended, especially for parents whose kids could use a good lesson in thinking about consequences before acting—without realizing they’re learning of course.

View all my reviews

Before you go, take a look at the last couple of posts for open giveaways. And if you have any children’s book recommendations from picture books up through YA to add to my 2013 recommended book list, hurry and tell me before Friday because that’s when I want to post them.  Thanks!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Thanks for the kind review, Sher! has lots of information about the book at its sequels, as well as previews of the illustrations.


  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

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    All content is copyrighted and may not be used in any form without proper credit and links. For purposes other than charity or education, printed materials require prior written consent. Disclaimer: Most books were provided free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.