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Leon The Chameleon
© Txu-100-765 (1982) by Cheryl Henry Hodgetts
Hello! My name is Leon. My life has not always been happy, because I have not always known that I was a chameleon. In many ways, I was just like any other lizard.
One day I did something that changed my life and taught me the true meaning of friendship. I decided to climb out of my jungle home and see some of my other jungle friends.
I soon saw Boris, the bullfrog, sitting on a large brown rock near the stream. I stood rocking back and forth for a moment, trying to get up the courage to face Boris.
Boris smiled at me. “R-R-R-RIG-RIG-GUP!! He croaked,
"Green on green
is hard to be seen.
You tried to hide but
my senses are keen.
You sleep at night
in the pale moonlight
but in the light of the sun
you’re a beautiful sight!
Boris laughed, and as he did, his stomach jumped up and down and his neck shook. He croaked in a low soft whisper, “Why don’t you go show our friend Maggie, the monkey?”
I moved quickly to the bank of the stream and stepped onto a pale green lily pad.
The lily pad floated further along the jungle stream until at last it came to rest on a sandy beach. I stepped off the lily pad and looked around, but I was very surprised.
What was wrong? No lizards! The other lizards came here every day to catch their food.
As I climbed up a tree to search for others, I felt a sense of danger. My color changed to brown.
I was about to go back down the tree when I heard a chattering on a tree limb higher above me. I knew that voice anywhere. It was Maggie, the monkey, sitting on a branch.
My color was now a bark brown and I knew that Maggie would not be able to see me. I climbed up the tree and crawled out on the branch above Maggie.
I looked down and saw that she was about to peel a banana. I curled my tail around a tree branch. Then, I hung down, like a possum, over her head and said softly, “Hello, Maggie!”
“Well, my, my! It’s Leon, the chameleon. What a beautiful brown color you are today . . . and I just love brown. Of course, maybe that’s because I’m brown too.”
“I’m glad you like my color Maggie but, what did you call me?” I asked.
“Leon, you’re a chameleon. A chameleon is a very special kind of lizard that changes colors. You must not be shy because you are not like other lizards. Your colors change when your mood changes. It also changes when your body changes its temperature. Often, when your color changes, you will be the same color as objects around you. This makes you a very interesting reptile. Being able to change colors will help you keep warm and safe. It can help you stay hidden while you search for food,” Maggie explained.
“Thank you, Maggie, for telling me what it means to be a chameleon.”
As I hurried down the tree, Maggie called to me, “Leon, come out in the daytime every day!”
I found my way back through the jungle until I reached my home. I sat quietly in my doorway thinking of the ways my colors had been useful to me that day.
The crocodile missed seeing my green chameleon body on the green lily pad. I could spy on him and warn the other lizards when he was searching for food.
I tricked the snake into thinking I was a part of the brown tree branch when my color changed to bark brown.
Then I thought, “I have not finished what I need to do . . . I’ll find my lizard friends and tell them I want to join them in the daytime.”
Once again I headed for the sandy beach. As I climbed up onto a rock, I knew that Igor the iguana, from Costa Rica had already seen me.
"Amigos! Look at Leon,” Igor called out, “his color is brown, just like mine.”
I stepped onto a green plant.
“Leon is not brown,” said Bobbie, the basilisk, from the rain forest, “he’s green--just like me!”
"Leon is both,” called out Doc, the draco lizard, from Indonesia.
He flew down from the top of a tree using the extra skin under his arm as wings. He continued to explain, “He can be green, or blue, or any color because Leon is a chameleon.”
I was proud. Their attention made me blush and caused me to change from green to red, purple and back to green again.
That day stands out as the day I found what I was looking for. . . myself. Since that day, I have made lots of friends.
As we started home, Doc told me that we all need each other to go on with life.
I found out that he was right.
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