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Wednesday, December 25, 2013


A delightful introduction for young people to the enigmatic chameleon. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Written by Charles de Villiers with illustrations by Claire Norden, Curly the Chameleon is a delightful introduction for young people to the enigmatic chameleon. This fascinating creature with its ponderous movements and swivelling eyes can often instil fear in children. If they are quick enough to catch the lightning movement of its tongue as it zaps a fly, this can create further alarm.

However, once you meet Curly even the most intimidated should feel comfortable around any chameleon!

The first two pages see a beady-eyed chameleon, peeping through dense foliage. This is Curly who really believes he’s a dragon, all-powerful and lord of his surroundings.

However, in his immediate environment is another being who considers itself all-powerful, the neighbourhood cat which goes by the name of Ninja! Cats have been known to eat chameleons so this is his closest enemy ... and Ninja’s looking his way!

This is when Curly can exhibit his magical capacity to change colour. (While it is generally recognised that chameleons do this according to their surroundings, they also do this to indicate their moods and attitudes) So Ninja eventually gives up and skulks off in search of a mouse.

Curly looks for further tasty titbits further up the tree without looking out for danger from above and the next thing a hawk is swooping down on him. This time there’s no escape and he’s carried off in the hawk’s talons. A scary journey ensues (I liked the change in layout presentation!) before the story reaches a happy ending.

De Villiers works in computer software design and is a published science writer. His text is written in rhyme and is easily accessible to youngsters. Norden specialises in children’s book illustration and has made a name for herself with her bold, colourful artwork. Her Curly the Chameleon illustrations are delightful. An added attraction for the book is a full page of stickers so young readers can create their own scenario.

Curly the Chameleon is published by Random Struik and is the second title in Struik Nature's Original African Tale series - ISBN: 9781775840671 Recommended Retail Price R80. – Caroline Smart

The publication is also available in Afrikaans.