Konte Chameleon Fine, Fine, Fine!

02Mar10

A West African Folk Tale
Retold by Cristina Kessler
Illustrated by Christian Epanya
A West African Folk TaleIn this picture book, the West African Folk tale of Konte Chameleon is retold. chameleons changing e With the help of  Dr. Jalloh the rabbit, Konte Chameleon figures out that he can change colors and the advantages of his camouflage.

The cultural differences are apparent in the manner of storytelling used. Children would be need to primed on this varying structure and in particular the sounds used to imitate animals. Without some priming, children would get distracted and confused by the differences. Here is a sampling of some of the sounds of the creatures in this story: suka – suka – suka, humma- humma – humma, slishhh – slishhh – slishhh, buzza – click – fa-rump, snoo – snoo – snoo. It might even be neat to have children predict before reading what animal might produce each sound!

While reading, I made a connection between this story and talking to students about general language variation and that in different cultures, people describe animal noises differently. These types of discussions increase students’ awareness and appreciation of diversity.

I want to check out this other book Everywhere the Cow Says “Moo!” by Ellen Slusky Weinstein.  I think it could be a great way to preface students for Konte Chameleon:

In English, the frog says, “Ribbit ribbit!”

In Spanish, the frog says “Crew-ah crew-ah!”

In French, the frog says “Kwah, Kwah!”

In Japanese, the frog says, “Kero, Kero!”

But everywhere, the cow says “Moo!”

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One Response to “Konte Chameleon Fine, Fine, Fine!”

  1. 1 leslie

    Although I realize this is a folktale story, I wondered, are the color “transformations” of the chameleon true to the colors that a chameleon will change into, or is it dramatized as in Eric Carle’s The Mixed-Up Chameleon (changing colors to match any surrounding, not necessarily true to the mechanism of a chameleon)? I also think it’s interesting that you bring up the animal noise descriptions in other languages. Often, we generalize with our own language knowledge. I think this is a great/different type of story to learn about diversity.


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