cover image Chamelia


Ethan Long. Little, Brown, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-08612-7

"Most chameleons like to blend in. But not Chamelia." With a wardrobe made up entirely of boldly patterned statement pieces, Chamelia definitely rocks the different drummer look. But her fierce individuality proves distracting when collective efforts are the order of the day%E2%80%94as when she dresses up as Cleopatra for a school play about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. With help from her parents, Chamelia learns that teamwork, whether on the soccer field or the choral risers, has its own rewards: "...standing out isn't the only way to feel special. Joining in can be just as fun!" Long (One Drowsy Dragon) puts his finger on an intriguing issue: how does one cope with the simultaneous yet polar pulls of individuality and belonging? Unfortunately, he resorts to tired turns of phrase ("When others zig... Chamelia zags") and forced chirpiness to deliver the story's lessons. His digitally collaged pictures, which are composed along a single, stagelike plane, have comic energy. But even so, Chamelia never emerges as much more than the sum total of her clothing choices. Ages 3%E2%80%936. (May)