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Behind The Book: The Chameleon’s True Colors

Author, Yuliya Pankratova, shares what inspired her to write The Chameleon’s True Colors. Read along to learn how this book can help your little ones learn a very important lesson.

A Little Chameleon

My book, The Chameleon’s True Colors, takes little ones on a journey around the jungle, introducing them to colorful new friends along the way. It explores the colors of nature—not just their beauty, but their functions. From the tiger’s striped-orange to the peacock’s blue-green feathers, each color in the book has a purpose. Color can be a warning, camouflage, an attraction device . . .

Sharing is Caring

However, at its core, this book is about sharing. This is something that can be really hard for kids. “Mine” is one of the earliest words to come out of a toddler’s mouth. From blankets to raggedy teddy bears, children can get very attached to things. Sharing these things can feel like being forced to give something up. I wanted to use this book to help adults model generosity and introduce their kids to the silver lining of sharing: that warm feeling of making someone else happy. When the little chameleon gives back the colors he took from his friends, he shows empathy and is rewarded for it.

Empathy and Friendship

The themes of empathy and belonging are important to my writing, illustration, and life experiences. Having moved to London from Moscow when I was five years old, speaking no English, and feeling like an outsider, the desire to belong was a significant part of my youngest years. Picture books helped me fit in—they taught me to understand stories through illustrations and helped me learn English. As soon as I did, I began to write. From silly poems about dragons and kittens to short stories about my family’s experiences with the language barrier. My love for stories grew, and I went on to study literature and illustration at degree-level before forging a career as a picture book author-illustrator.

Colors and Creativity

My illustrations for The Chameleon’s True Colors are hand-painted. From the chameleon’s scales to the tiger’s fur to the peacock’s feathers—I love creating textures that children can almost imagine touching. I work with traditional media and have a painterly style. No doubt this was influenced by the Russian fairy-tale illustrations I grew up within Moscow. Together with my writing, I try to use my illustrations to create a world of wonder. A world that sparks curiosity inspires creativity, and opens up conversations between kids and grown-ups.

I hope you and your little ones enjoy discovering the colors of the jungle together with my little chameleon!

Order Chameleon’s True Colors here!

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