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KONTE CHAMELEON FINE, FINE, FINE! by Cristina Kessler

KONTE CHAMELEON FINE, FINE, FINE!

A West African Folktale

By Cristina Kessler (Adaptor) , Christian Epanya (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56397-181-X
Publisher: Boyds Mills

 Kessler (All the King's Animals, 1995, etc.) records a story told to her by a friend in Niger, whose grandfather told it to him, a testament to the endurance of the oral tradition. Konte Chameleon, atop a wild red orchid, is surprised when a glance over his shoulder shows that his body has turned ``as red as the setting sun.'' He seeks the advice of Dr. Jalloh, a wise rabbit who spends most of the tale teaching the chameleon about his changing colors as he leaps from leaf to twig to rock. Then, in the flick of a snake's tongue, Konte uses his new knowledge to momentarily--anti-climactically--trick Khadi Python. The telling uses sound words throughout for emphasis, just as Verna Aardema does, a usually effective device for read-aloud sessions. But the storyline becomes cluttered with too many ``Kurr-Kurr-Kurrs'' and ``Whuut-whuuts.'' The electrifying acrylic illustrations rise above this minor flaw, as Epanya's thick brush strokes layer background leaves, trees, and grasses with color and texture, and lend plenty of snap and sizzle to the saucer-eyed protagonist. The fine design includes African textiled borders, cleverly mirrored in the West African cloth hat and sack of Dr. Jalloh. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)