Teaching Life Science with Children's Literature: Crafty Chameleon

Mwenye Hadithi's work, The Crafty Chameleon, teaches two lessons focusing on bullies and the lifestyle of chameleons.  Adrienne Kennaway, the illustrator, does a wonderful job with the artwork in this book.  She brings every page to life, giving the reader the urge to turn the page.

The Crafty Chameleon is the story of a chameleon that has had enough of certain animals in the forest that are not very considerate and take advantage of the animals that are smaller.  The chameleon wants to teach the animals a lesson about being courteous and in the process shows the reader how he is able to disguise himself to infiltrate his plan.  The chameleon wants the leopard and crocodile to realize that they are not allowed to treat others the way they have been treating him.  After being bullied by both of the animals, the chameleon threatened to tie them up and pull them around the forest.  The leopard and crocodile laughed and refuse to believe that the little chameleon could neither tie them up nor pull them.  Later in the story, the leopard and crocodile's worst nightmare came true and the chameleon was able to do all of the above.  When the chameleon finished "pulling" them around the two animals said, "I am sorry, Mr. Chameleon, I will never bother you again, I promise! Please let me go (29)."  This apology allowed Hadithi, the author, to get the main point of her work across as she brought the book to a close.  "For brains are often better than strength or size (32)."  Throughout the book, the Chameleon was one of the smallest animals in the forest and he was having problems with the larger animals.  He was not as strong or as big, but he used his individual characteristics to his advantage.  The chameleon changed his color to adapt to his surroundings in order to survive and out smart the two larger animals.  "€¦But just in case the animals find out about the trick he played, he changes color and hides when he hears them coming (32)."  This book has the potential to be a child's favorite book because of the pictures and the very comprehensible literature.

Curriculum Connections
The student will learn about the specific characteristics that certain animals possess.  The chameleon's ability to change its color and blend into its background is something that other animals are not able to do.  This aspect of the story connects directly with the science SOL 1.5b.

Additional Activities:

Book: The Crafty Chameleon
Author: Mwenye Hadithi
Illustrator: Adrienne Kennaway
Publisher: Hodder Headline
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: Preschool-2nd
ISBN: 0340486988