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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chamelia, written and illustrated by Ethan Long. Little, Brown. Hachette, 2011. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"When others zig...
Chamelia zags.
When others twist,
Chamelia shouts.
When others rock,
Chamelia rolls..."

 The message is clear, while not being overplayed. Most chameleons appreciate their ability to blend into their backgrounds. Not so for the bold, flamboyant Chamelia. She likes being 'out there'. She chooses bright colors that call attention to her, and always makes her fashion choices with diligent care.

There can be problems! A long, flowing skirt cannot always escape the closing door of the school bus. A costume fit for a princess renders Goldilocks unrecognizable to the three bears. High heels and sequined dresses don't seem appropriate for a budding soccer star. As is often the case, those who 'stand out' draw negative attention from others, exclusion and ultimately, sadness for Chamelia.

Her parents have a suggestion:

"But Chamelia's parents say standing out isn't the only way to feel special. Joining in can be just as fun!"

Aha, I think they are onto something here!

Ethan Long's collage illustrations done with bright, colorful fabrics make Chamelia a stand-out...just what she wants to be. Keeping the parents and school friends a much more subdued green while Chamelia sports a darker, more unique green allows young readers quick access to her on each page.  Everything about Chamelia is special. Now she knows it, and so do her friends.

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