Back to School: Chamelia and the New Kid in Class by Ethan Long
IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, AND CHAMELIA'S FRIENDS WERE EXCITED TO HEAR ABOUT HER SUMMER VACATION.
NATURALLY, SHE TOLD THEM THROUGH SONG AND DANCE.
But while that dynamic diva Chamelia is tap dancing and belting out her travelogue from the school steps, she finds that she is suddenly upstaged.
It's that nemesis of the class super star--THE NEW KID!
Suddenly, the crowd drifts away from Chamelia and surrounds Cooper, an amiable boy with a pronounced pompadour hairdo and an apparent passion for drawing. In art class the other kids seems to be enthralled with his skills at portraying them in sidewalk artist portraits, leaving Chamelia for the first time without an entourage.
Chamelia doesn't know how to deal with all this and zooms home after school alone and abashed. But it seems like everywhere she goes, there's Cooper--basking in the limelight. He wows the class with his birthday cupcakes, and when her teacher schedules a show-and-tell day, she knows it's time for a popularity shoot-out.
Chamelia brings her shell collection and gives it all she's got, juggling whelks and dancing to the accompaniment of clacking clam-shell castanets. She's sure that her act and her shells show real star power!
But Cooper's rocks and minerals collection is pretty impressive. He sets up his realistic drawings on an easel, and launches into a knowledgeable lecture. Chamelia knows that she's got to find a way to throw Cooper off his game if she wants to recapture her following. She tries distraction, but her loud yawns don't do it. Chamelia escalates with a dramatic raspberry!
It works. Cooper starts to stammer and forgets his script. But suddenly, Chamelia can't believe what she's just done. That's not the way to be a real star!
SUDDENLY BEING THE BEST FELT THE WORST!
Hastily she scribbles a sign and holds it high for Cooper to see:
YOU ROCK, COOP!
With the showdown resolved, Chamelia and Cooper find a way to share the spotlight comfortably in Ethan Long's brand-new back-to-school story, Chamelia and the New Kid in Class (Little, Brown, 2013). Long's tale of classroom rivalry is dramatically told, managing to create some empathy for the displaced diva even in the midst of her bad behavior, but Long's bright pastel fabric collages and digitally enhanced illustrations incorporating actual photos are the real star of the show here, with a marvelous mixed-media page design that is a real visual show stopper. As Kirkus Reviews puts it, ""Long makes Chamelia, and now Cooper as well, pop off the pages...."
Pair this one with Long's first book about a little chameleon who wants to stand out in the school crowd (see my review here).