Any parent is well versed in the artistry and engaging stories of Eric Carle. There was a time that I could recite Brown Bear, Brown Bear by memory. What did the Very Hungry Caterpillar eat that gave him such a terrible tummy ache? Yeah, knew that one too. But every once in a while, I still manage to come across a book of Carle’s that I didn’t know about.
The Mixed-Up Chameleon is a brilliant story about just being yourself and appreciating what makes you different. It is told from the eyes of a young chameleon who happened upon the zoo one day. After seeing each animal, the chameleon thought how that animal was better than he was and wished to be like the other animal – “‘How small I am, how slow, how weak! I wish I could be big and white like a polar bear.’ And the chameleon’s wish came true. But was it happy? No!”
Each page continues with it finding something about each animal and slowly taking on a part of each animal. There are also cutouts on the left side of each page to show each animal that the chameleon is turning into, which miraculously also take on the colors of the rainbow. By the end, the chameleon is barely recognizable, but worse than that, he was so mixed up that he couldn’t even manage to catch a fly so he could get something to eat!
At that point, he realizes the importance of just being himself, wishes himself back to normal, and caught the fly.
This is such a simple story and yet so powerful. My 5 year old really loved the cut out tabs and all of the crazy colors. It is a great opener to a conversation with kids about what they like about themselves. Another win for Eric Carle!