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Book Reviews

Camilla Chameleon

by Colleen Sydor; Pascale Constantin, illus.

Camilla McNilly disappears every Saturday at suppertime when it’s liver and onions night in the McNilly household. Her schoolmates envy her unsurpassed hide-and-seek skills and how Camilla can read a comic book in class with one eye, while her teacher looks her straight in the other. But Camilla’s hidden talent for camouflage is discovered after she tries to blend into the blackboard when it’s her turn to do math problems in front of the class. All ends happily when her teacher finds the perfect place for Camilla to practise her unique skills.

Winnipeg author Colleen Sydor creates an interesting character in Camilla, a girl who comes by her ability to disappear honestly: her mother satisfied a food craving with cans and cans of Cream of Chameleon Soup while expecting Camilla. Sydor’s storytelling style includes plenty of playful word choices and a penchant for descriptive silliness. Although Miss Floxbottom’s solution to Camilla’s problem comes much too out-of-the-blue to be a wholly satisfying development, the wacky characters and fun situations will hook young readers who want a light, imaginative read.

Pascale Constantin’s colourful oil-rendered illustrations are funky and bold, the flower-power details tuned in to Sydor’s theme of individuality and self-expression. This energetic story with its vibrant visuals works particularly well as a read-aloud for early elementary audiences. Watch kids delight in predicting the type of sibling Camilla will get when her mother craves Cream of Alligator Soup.