________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005


Camilla Chameleon.

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Pascale Constantin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-482-7.

Subject Headings:
Schools-Juvenile fiction.
Chameleons-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.




One day Willy McNilly comes home from work and finds his wife in bed, surrounded by empty cans of Cream of Chameleon soup. When he asks what he can get her for supper, her reply is, "Some Cream of Chameleon soup, please." From then on, Mrs. McNilly eats Cream of Chameleon soup for breakfast, Cream of Chameleon soup for lunch, and Cream of Chameleon soup for supper. Not surprisingly, it soon turns out that Willy and Milly are expecting a baby. When little Camilla is born, her parents are delighted. "She was a little strange looking, but her parents thought she was perfect." Camilla has some very special talents. She can pick up a hopscotch rock without bending over; look at her teacher with one eye and read a comic book with the other, and, most amazing of all, she can disappear by blending perfectly into her surroundings. Using her gift for camouflage allows Camilla to escape from all sorts of unpleasant activities, including eating liver and fried cabbage, cleaning the hamster cage at school and visiting the doctor. One day, however, her disappearing act gets her into big trouble at school. She is caught out by her teacher, the redoubtable Miss Floxbottom, who, in the blink of an eye, finds the perfect way to put Camilla's extraordinary talent to work.

     Colleen Sydor's 1999 picture book, Smarty Pants, won the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award that year. Ooo-cha!, a delightful spoof of Little Red Riding Hood, was also a finalist for the McNally Award that same year. Two recently published books, Fashion Fandango and Max's Metamorphosis, featuring Sydor's spunky heroine Norah, have become popular with 8 to 11-year-old readers.

internal art     Camilla Chameleon is a funny, fast paced and altogether wacky story which is sure to make readers of all ages giggle. It will make a particularly entertaining read-aloud for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students.

     Artist Pascale Constantin, nominated three times for the Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration, has produced vibrant illustrations, cheeky and chock full of hilarious detail. They are a perfect match for Sydor's off-the-wall characters and narrative. The surprise ending is a bonus that will delight young listeners and elicit plenty of post storytime discussion and speculation.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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