cover image Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Gervase Phinn, illus. by Tony Ross. Andersen Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-8996-5

A “strange little creature” hatches in the jungle and wants to know one thing: “Who am I?” Readers will see that he’s some kind of lizard, and some will nail down the species within a page or two: chameleon. That’s because as the interrogator goes from animal to animal in search of his answer, he takes on the spots or color of whomever he’s talking to. This quest also enables British author Phinn to create a nifty taxonomy of superlatives: “I know that I am the cheetah and I am the fastest animal in the whole wide world,” is a typical answer, “but I do not know what sort of creature you are.” Mother Chameleon knows, though, and she appears just in time to save her baby from a crocodile. Phinn’s story delivers a simple, solid good time: the brisk, British-inflected narration is fun to read aloud, and the effortless cartooning from Ross gets maximum comic mileage from the contrast between the persistent, bug-eyed hero and his much larger jungle counterparts. Ages 4–9. (Apr.)