Chameleons Are Cool

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
Chameleons Are Cool Book Poster Image
Simple yet beguiling look at chameleons.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the writing is straightforward, with fascinating information in digestible tidbits. Though it can be excessive in its desire to be hip, the book's artwork grasps readers' interest like a sticky tongue.

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What's the story?

This simple yet beguiling introduction to one of the world's most wondrous and strange (and, inexplicably, endearing) lizards ably describes the reptiles, covering their more peculiar behavior and their distribution. The book is vividly illustrated by Sue Shields in the fanciful colors chameleons prefer.


Is it any good?

You have to hand it to Martin Jenkins for creating a natural-science book that can be successfully deployed with preschoolers. The text emphasizes chameleon facts that grab kids' interest -- changing colors, wild rotating eyes, and just plain wild noses, their grumpiness, and their slow approach, followed by a lightning-quick zap of their quarry -- while the illustrations are as Technicolor bright as the tropics.

One slight drawback is Jenkins' occasional pandering to readers, starting with "Chameleons are cool." The inclusion of a young boy in the artwork, in aviator glasses and with his hat on backward, also seems a bit obvious. When this book was read to a library class of 5-year-olds, they immediately began to act grumpy and stick their tongues out at one another. Obviously, chameleons and 5-year-olds share much in common.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about chameleons. What was the most interesting thing you learned in this book? How could you learn more if you wanted to?

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