The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse

Book review by
S. K. List, Common Sense Media
The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse Book Poster Image
A tale that can make a grown-up giggle too.

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The narrator draws detention for tardiness and sassing a teacher, then sneaks out of his punishment.


At one point, the teacher, Old Toady, gives a student "a friendly punt to speed him up."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book has a sharp ear for the lingo of pulp fiction and an intricate plot.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old October 31, 2011

laidback animal rebel + hardcore mystery solver = chet gecko

One of my favorite mystery books that has suave style in the midst of its mysterious adventure. Chet is one of my mystery solving heroes, and he will definitely... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a tale that can make a grown-up giggle, Chet Gecko follows clues through school to rescue a first-grade chameleon. The lizard hero walks a tightrope between the strict sweetness of elementary school and the rich tradition of film noir and pulp detective novels.


Is it any good?

Will the opening of THE CHAMELEON WORE CHARTREUSE set PC teeth on edge? "Some cases start rough, some cases start easy. This one started with a dame." But the next sentence clues us in to the Chet Gecko tone: "That's what we private eyes call a girl." From there, Bruce Hale sweeps readers into the wacky world of his school-age sleuth.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, the author slips in some hilarious lines: "She was the kind of girl I could have fallen for. If I liked girls." Hale paints Emerson Hicky Elementary School as a benign and comical, if bizarre, world with just enough goofy reality to make it stick, and just enough style to make it pulpy. Kids (and adults) who've encountered classics of the genre will enjoy some good chuckles.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pulp fiction. What are some of the hallmarks of the genre? Does this book qualify? Why or why not?

Book details

  • Author: Bruce Hale
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace
  • Publication date: February 16, 2001
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
  • Number of pages: 97
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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