A Chameleon's Life
written by Ellen Lawrence
2013 (Bearport Publishing)
Source: Orange County Public Library
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Sylvie lives on Madagascar, which is lies off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. She is keeping a diary of observing one of her favorite animals. This is the only place in the world that you will find panther chameleons in the wild. The male chameleon grows to about 20 inches while the female will about half that size. The most well known feature of a chameleon, it's changing colors, are used to show feelings and attract mates. The male on page 7 is orange, green, black, and white. It's a pretty spectacular light show. One interesting note from the book is the changing of the color of the female after she has mated. This tells male chameleons that she is no longer interested in them and getting ready to lay eggs. This sounds a lot easier and more practical than when my wife and I went to Babies R' Us and shot a device at UPC codes to list what we thought we needed for our upcoming newborn, but I digress. After laying 10 to 50 eggs on the ground and covering them up with dirt and leaves, the female will leave the eggs and never see them again. Sometime between 6 and 13 months, the babies will hatch from the eggs. A picture on pages 14 and 15 is unique in my reading of animal books. These babies will quickly make their way up the trees and march on toward adulthood. The lifespan of a panther chameleon is two years. The coolest fact in the book is that the panther chameleon's tongue is about one and a half times the length of its body. You'll see a great picture of this tongue in action on page 19.
Chameleons are fascinating creatures. If you want to see great action photos and learn interesting facts about the panther chameleon, find a copy of A Chameleon's Life. The text in this book is fairly simple which makes it a good choice for second graders and older reluctant readers. One fun activity would be to ask students to think about what colors they would choose to show different emotions like a chameleon.