It seems that chameleons in children’s books always have a hard time with the notion of who they are… Cases in point? One new one and a few old favourites.
Who Am I?
by Gervase Phinn & Tony Ross
ISBN: 978 1 84939 288 4
One part chameleon story, one part Are You My Mother, this cute little adventure follows a newly hatched chameleon as he tries to figure out who he is and who he belongs to. He approaches several different animals along the way, each of which describe an important fact about themselves, but none seem to know what he is. In the end, his mother finds him and he has a narrow escape from some nasty jaws.
Along the way, of course, we have learned about a few jungle animals, and enjoyed the visual joke of the chameleon taking on the colours and markings of each. Cute, simple, and a fun little story for fans of animals or those who have children prone to wandering…
The Mixed-Up Chameleon
by Eric Carle
ISBN: 978 0 690 04396 9
A chameleon looks enviously at the many and wondrous things that other creatures can do, and wishes himself those qualities. These wishes come true, and by the end of the book, he is so far from himself and so discombobulated that he cannot even catch a fly to eat any more, and learns a little lesson.
Like many of Carle’s books, it has a little learning tucked into it in the form of a rainbow of colours that builds down the side of the book, but he is a master at never interrrupting the story for this, but letting it be part of the structure, instead. It’s not my favourite Carle, but definitely one of his better-known with good reason, and the moral, while gentle, is a worthwhile one.
A chameleon notices that other animals and things have a colour of their own, but not him. He sets off in search of a place where he can stay and be the same colour all the time, but unfortunately chooses a leaf… By spring, he is losing hope, until he runs into another chameleon, who has a solution – they will stick together, and be the same colour!
I’m always a sucker for a friendship story, and this one has some colour learning rolled in nicely, touches on seasons, and ends on a sweet note, with the two friends staying side by side. I love it, and bought it in board format for my little guys.
This one is also available in board book. Yay!
Leon the Chameleon
by Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press
ISBN: 978 1 553 37527 2
Leon is different from the other chameleons… When they turn blue, he turns orange. On a nice green leaf, he turns bright red, and not because he’s been in the sun. It’s embarrassing, though that’s not why he’s red, either. He longs to be like the others – until the day he gets lost, and his usually-detrimental colour problem turns into a positive.
Like most of these books, this one explores colour, but highlights the notion of opposite, or complementary colours. It also carries along with it a nice little message about the benefits and specialness of being yourself, mildly expressed and nicely pitched for smaller people.