CHAMELEONS: The Little Lions of the Reptile World by Jeanne Cowden

CHAMELEONS: The Little Lions of the Reptile World

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This very personal account of the author's five-year observation and care of chameleons in her South African garden leaves the impression that not only is she a bit dotty on the subject, but she revels in being so considered. In truth, she'd have to be a chameleon freak to gather so much first-hand detail about the creatures' mating ritual, battles over mates, hatching schedules, egg-laying process, and health problems. And the clutch of photos catch such dramatic and/or revealing moments that they can only result from long and patient watching. Unfortunately for the reader Cowden never made the switch from an enthusiast's to a scientist's approach and it's impossible to evaluate the ""theories"" she has ""heard of"" (scientists' consensus or more of the Zulu folk beliefs she also mentions?) or to guess how her own observations jibe with others'. More off-putting is her jerky and florid writing style--gushing on about the ""wondrously fashioned,"" ""marvelous and unique"" features, the birth drama by which ""I am always overcome"" and the deaths which ""always left me feeling desolate."" Nor is there any indication that her memoir was written with young readers in mind. Most would be better served by Lilo Hess's more conventional The Remarkable Chameleon; what's most remarkable here is Cowden's devotion.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1977
Publisher: McKay