Social and science lessons disguised in an early reader.
In this series opener, Tessy, a self-absorbed girl, meets a chameleon named Newton. She wants to be friends, but only on her terms. Newton is not so sure—especially when Tessy expects him to act like a kid. The conflicts continue through five chapters. “Jars are not [his] thing”; “picnics are not [his] thing,” either. But “rock sitting” and changing colors are not her things. Sometimes the problem is language; sometimes the problem is because they are different species. Eventually, they find something they can enjoy together: watching the sun set and the moon rise. The second book in the series, The Kid and the Chameleon Sleepover (published simultaneously), gives readers six further chapters about the conflicting views of these improbable friends. Kids who can get past the heavy-handed message about respecting differences will benefit from the practice reading short sentences (often of just one or two words) with predictable parallel structures and simple repetitive vocabulary. Five to 10 lines of text per page are set in a large, well-leaded serif typeface against mostly white backgrounds dotted with full-color illustrations. A final page of “Chameleon Facts” explains the science alluded to in the story. Tessy has beige skin and fluffy, brown hair.
Not as simpatico as Frog and Toad nor as clever as Amelia Bedelia but useful for skill development. (Early reader. 5-8)