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Neon Leon

Neon Leon, a picture book by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup, is reviewed for My Book Corner by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe.

You sometimes hear stories about kids eating the “wrong berries” in the garden. I sort of figured it was just folklore created to encourage vigilant parenting. These things never actually happen, right? I really should have known better. After all, the origins of the berry folklore probably originated from the escapades of my delinquent brother Brett. We grew up in rural Australia. Back then we were made of tougher stuff. Our neighbour would spray DDT as weed killer, straight along the fence line and over our toes. Mum used to put the hose on him for that. We had free run of the neighbourhood and Brett would go haring off like a whippet, not seen again until he needed feeding and watering. One day he bounded back and proudly announced, “hey Muuuuuum I ate all the green lollies off Ivan’s lawn.” What? How come Brett got sweets? But Mum reacted like a battlefield surgeon and instantly put her fingers down his throat, before driving him up to the ambulance. For whatever reason Mum always drove Brett to the ambulance, otherwise they’d be permanently based on our front lawn. As it turns out, the green lollies were in fact snail bait. Our neighbour Ivan showed us the box with the skull and crossbones on the front. We were impressed. We like to think it was the equivalent of strychnine. Brett was a hero.

Now that I’m a Mum I naively thought... that was Brett. It’s not how real children behave. Then I had boisterous Ben. Ben’s one, and one Spring afternoon while the kids played in the garden, I heard what I assumed were the hoarse barking sounds of foxes mating. Nope. It was Ben coughing up an orange coloured berry. An orange berry?! Hold on a minute, there’s no such tree in our garden! I could only assume a bird had dropped it. Then, forever starving, Ben had found that ruddy berry gleaming like amber in a patch of green, and had snaffled it. Remembering no real first aid, just the dozens of times Mum applied battlefield triage on Brett... I put my finger down Ben’s throat.

After all the excitement of ‘Berrygate’ we decided a sedate story time was in order. I reached for a book, and would you believe, ‘Leon Neon’ by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup was top of the pile. It’s a vibrant story about an ORANGE chameleon trying to fit in amidst a sea of green. How perfectly apt. Leon’s so luminescent “he’s keeping all the other chameleons awake! What a lot of grumpy chameleons!” Ostracised, he heads off in search of somewhere to blend in. A place to call home. Poor Leon.

Before writing over 70 kids’ books, Jane was an archaeologist, which explains her enthusiasm for dinos (the stars in many of her books) and her penchant for collecting fossil shark teeth! Now that’s a hobby to put on your CV. Her easy writing style is hugely engaging for young readers, as she provides maximum opportunity for you to holler at the book. And that wins you top marks in our household. Little readers get the chance to participate by: answering questions about where Leon is, telling Leon what colour he should turn, clapping their hands, counting to ten and much more. At one point, we’re prompted to say it “louder”. So much for a sedate read!

Britta is an award-winning illustrator of over 90 picture books. Her work is so beautiful that it hangs in fine art galleries. In this story, Britta’s vibrant illustrations draw you in; it really does feel like you could push a palm frond aside and discover another chameleon chilling on the branch. Thanks to Britta, despite Leon’s luminescence, he maintains an expression of utter dejection throughout most of the book. It really plucks at the ol’ heartstrings (in a funny way), and makes it all the more satisfying when he finally finds his place in the world – and his “perfect match”. Ah. Good karma for our chameleon. Way to go Leon!

Neon Leon, a picture book by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup, is reviewed for My Book Corner by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe.

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Publisher Blurb
Everyone knows that chameleons are the best at fitting in.

But not Leon. Leon is neon! In fact, he's SO bright that he keeps all the other chameleons awake at night.

But poor Leon is lonely, so he goes off in search of somewhere he can blend in. In this delightful interactive book, filled with vibrant neon artwork, children can help Leon on his journey by counting his steps, sending him to sleep and giving him lots of reassurance when he's feeling down.

But will he ever find a place he can fit in...?

Nitty Gritty

Format
Hardcover
Pages
24
Publisher
ISBN
978-0857638069

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