________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 16 . . . . April 12, 2002

cover Leon the Chameleon.

Melanie Watt.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2000.
32 pp., cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 1-55074-867-X.

Subject Heading:
Color-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool / Ages 2-5.

Review by L.M. Sykes.

***1/2 /4

excerpt: image

Leon the chameleon was different from all the other chameleons. When the others sat on a green leaf, they turned green. When they stood on yellow sand, they turned yellow. And when they swam in the blue pond, they turned blue.

But not Leon. When Leon sat on a green leaf, he turned red.

Written by Montreal author and artist Melanie Watt, Leon the Chameleon is the story of an unusual, young chameleon. While the other chameleons camouflage with ease, Leon always turns the opposite (complementary) colour. Needless to say, this situation makes him stand out and causes him to feel self-conscious about his appearance. One day, when a group of young chameleons wanders away from home, Leon decides to follow them from a distance. When the group becomes lost, it is Leon's contrasting colour which enables the parent chameleons to locate their youngsters. As a result, Leon begins to view his unique appearance with pride and realizes that being different also makes him special.

     Leon the Chameleon is both a positive tale about celebrating differences and an introduction to colour theory. Melanie Watt's simple text and bold illustrations allow her to deliver the two messages simultaneously. The vocabulary and story-line are straightforward with the plot moving along very quickly to hold the attention of the young audience. These same readers will relate well to Leon's doubts and his desire to be just like his friends.

     It is, however, the artwork that truly allows Leon the Chameleon to succeed. Watt's illustrations were created using black ink lines over acrylic backgrounds and, like her main character, are unique. Her simple strokes and vibrant colours and contrasts capture the reader's attention immediately. The illustrations convey both Leon's emotions and the passage of time very effectively. While the intended audience is listed by the publisher as Pre K-K this book would be suitable for Grades 1 and 2 as well, particularly as a review of colour theory. (A colour wheel is included at the back of the book)

     Overall, Leon the Chameleon would make a colourful addition to collections focusing on appreciating differences and, as an art/literature connection. An enjoyable read.

Highly recommended.

Lisa Sykes has worked in Winnipeg as an early years teacher and teacher-librarian. She is currently enjoying her time at home with her two young children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364