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The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse: A Chet Gecko Mystery Hardcover – April 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Series: Chet Gecko (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1st edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152022813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152022815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,935,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hale (How the Gecko Lost His Tail) launches a mild new mystery series starring fourth-grade gumshoe Chet Gecko, who searches for a missing chameleon named Billy. "Some cases start rough, some cases start easy. This one started with a dame. (That's what we private eyes call a girl.)" Shirley Chameleon, wearing a chartreuse scarf, hires Chet (for the price of a piece of stinkbug pie) to locate her brother, last seen with an angry Gila monster named Herman. As he follows clues through the school and encounters an eclectic menagerie of students and teachers, Chet's comical asides form a tongue-in-cheek satire of hard-nosed Sam Spade types, while other jokes opt for broader humor (e.g., one chapter heading reads, "To Grill a Mockingbird"). The position of lead detective fluctuates between the private eye and his good friend Natalie Attired, the "smartest mockingbird around." This light, humorous fare offers a fairly transparent mystery that may not wow whodunit fans, but beginning readers especially will appreciate the offbeat, likable cast and quirky comedy and may well look forward to Gecko's second case, The Mystery of Mr. Nice, scheduled for release in August. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4-Chet Gecko, top private eye in the fourth grade, has the Sam Spade lingo down pat ("She was the kind of girl I could have fallen for. If I liked girls") but when it comes to detection, he literally doesn't have a clue. Retained by classmate Shirley Chameleon to locate her missing brother, he misinterprets obvious evidence and follows numerous red herrings. Eventually, Chet uncovers an evil plot against the school's football team, masterminded by Herman Gila Monster and his gang. Can Chet overcome gang members, sadistic teachers, and the detention dungeon to save the game and the day? The clever dialogue is filled with the kind of sarcastic similes that would have made Mickey Spillane proud. ("Brick snorted and giggled, a sound like two owls in a blender.") Even for satire, however, the book is often over the top. Adult characters are uniformly unattractive-gleefully cruel teachers, a sloppy coach, and a feline principal who sharpens his claws on the curtains. The gang's revenge, which leaves the detective suspended over a swimming pool to be chlorinated to death, is the sort of thing that might be expected of James Bond villains, but it's hardly the stuff of juvenile crime. This is far from an essential purchase, but it may resonate with young fans who want to go beyond Marjorie Sharmat's "Nate the Great" series (Delacorte).
Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

It's right on their level, and will keep adults engaged.
Reacher Creature
I have read most of them to my students, (I teach reading recovery in a middle school)and they have always been a huge hit.
Ms. Parrothead
My class wants to read all of the Chet Gecko mysteries now.
K. Henderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This first Chet Gecko mystery has it all. Danger of the worst disaster possible in elementary school--total public embarrassment--unless our hero can crack the case by the end of the school day. Villains and ne'er-do-wells. A character with true-to-life reptilian traits and appetites but a voice that's half classic sleuth half comic strip. Droll drawings. Gross humor and corny puns. A female classmate who outwits Chet almost to the end. And best of all--there are five more Chet Gecko Mysteries in the works!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R.L.O., 3rd grade teacher on July 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Chet Gecko is a lizard with an attitude. He's also the guy to go to if you have a mystery to solve at Emerson Hicky Elementary School. In the first book of the Chet Gecko mystery series, The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, Shirley the Chameleon asks for Chet's help in locating her missing brother, a troublesome first grader named Billy. With the promise of a piece of stinkbug pie and a "cootie" filled kiss from Shirley, Chet sets off to solve the mystery.
His detective work leads him to an assortment of unsavory characters: the Rat sisters, who steal his lunch and give him misleading clues; two frightening teachers, Mrs. Toaden (a toad) and Mrs. Glick (an alligator), who almost prevent Chet from solving his case; and Herman the Gila Monster, a huge, poisonous, sixth grade football player, who is up to something bad. With the help of a mockingbird friend named Natalie Attired, Chet finds his way in and out of the classroom in his rush to solve the mystery before the football game that afternoon.
Author Bruce Hale narrates the story from Chet's point of view, and Chet's smart, cool attitude is portrayed through his thoughts and dialogue. Unique, humorous descriptions serve to highlight each character. However, the sheer number of characters makes the story a bit confusing to follow and doesn't allow the reader to connect as well with the main characters. The plot also drags on and on, and the final conflict doesn't seem to be important enough to take up a whole book. Also, the overly witty dialogue gets a bit redundant at times. Perhaps, for a child, the story is more intriguing than for me as an adult. (I'll have to test it out with my class.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some of my fourth grade second language students were having trouble understanding and enjoying this book, so I picked it up and started to read it to see why. The way in which the dialogue for the characters is written is right out of a 1940's detective movie, and students of this age group and background do not have familiarity with such movies. I decided to read it as a read aloud to the class. It was a HUGE hit! Very humorous! Very witty! Now all the students want to read more of the books and are clamoring for the ones I have.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Chet gecko is just one of the many average geckoes at his school but there's something different about him: he's a private eye. Solving mysteries as he solves his math problems, theirs a problem at Chet's school, Billy has gone missing. Is it up to Chet to find him? It won't be that easy. A certain someone is standing in his way. Billy's sister Sherly offers Chet a big piece of stinkbug pie if he could find him. Chet cannot refuse a tasty snack. Chet gets some help from his new sidekick.

This was my first book I really enjoyed. I'm now reading the rest of the books in the series. It's a really funny book and it has a great mystery. When I laugh it makes me want to read more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Parrothead VINE VOICE on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
My son is [...] and hates chapter books, he would much rather be reading non-fiction. When I found the Chet Gecko series at the store, I took a chance and bought the first book. At first my son refused to read it, but after reading the first two chapters aloud as a bedtime story, he was hooked. He has since read all of the Chet Gecko novels and loves each and every one. I have read most of them to my students, (I teach reading recovery in a middle school)and they have always been a huge hit. While he may not be reading Chaucer, I am very happy to see him reading chapter books and enjoying himself. My six year old daughter also loves having the books read to her. I would recommend the Chet Gecko to any child, boy or girl, as a great introduction to mystery novels, detective stories, and bad puns.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Then this is the book for you! I'm 8 years old and I read this book...I thought is was GREAT!!! Chet books are great for just sitting down and reading. It makes you laugh but it's also exciting. I recommend this book to kids of all ages.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Erika Sorocco on November 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Fourth-grade sleuth, Chet Gecko, has experienced numerous different cases. Some start off easy, and some start off slowly. This particular case starts out with Shirley, a fourth-grade cheerleader, whose younger brother, Billy, is missing. Shirley promises Chet a heaping piece of stinkbug pie if he finds Billy before the football game. However, the football game is this afternoon. So Chet, with the help of his friend, Natalie Attired, a Mockingbird, quickly begin searching for clues. But they soon realize that if they don't work fast, Chet can say good-bye to his stinkbug pie.

I have seen the CHET GECKO MYSTERIES in the bookstore for years, but had never read any of the books in the series. However, the other day I decided to give THE CHAMELEON WORE CHARTREUSE a try, and I was not at all disappointed. Bruce Hale has done a wonderful job of creating a school that consists mainly of rodents, amphibians, birds, and various other animals. His hilarious wit, and many riddles will keep young readers enthralled until the very last page, and keep them coming back for more. If you're looking for a book to get your reluctant reader reading, THE CHAMELEON WORE CHARTREUSE is it.

Erika Sorocco
Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
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More About the Author

Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 25 seriously funny books for children, including the popular Chet Gecko Mysteries series and the comics-novel hybrid, Underwhere, as well as picture books like "Snoring Beauty" and "Moki and the Magic Surfboard."

An actor and Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools across North America - from the Maui Writers Conference to the Surrey International Writers Conference in British Columbia. His acting resume includes regional commercials, theater, and an independent film, The Ride. Bruce's book, "The Malted Falcon," was an Edgar Award Finalist. "Murder, My Tweet" won the Little D Award for Humor Writing.

When he was a kid, Bruce knew exactly what he wanted to be: Daniel Boone. However, somewhere along the way, the right books and the right teachers encouraged him to try following his love of story in a different direction. He is eternally grateful to those who helped him along the path.

A little-known fact: Bruce loves jazz, and sings with an latin jazz group called Mezcal Martini in Santa Barbara

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