Reviews for Chameleon Wore Chartreuse : From the Tattered Casebook of Chet Gecko, Private Eye
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 May 2000
Gr. 3^-6. The hard-boiled mystery style gets an unexpected twist when the detective is a fourth grader--and also a lizard. "It was a hot day in September. The kind of day when kindergartners wake up cranky from their naps." Chet Geko gets involved with a fourth-grade "dame," who has misplaced her brother. Chet is on the case. Billy has been seen with Herman the Gila monster, star of the football team, and Chet follows the trail, which leads to a plot to steal the team mascot. But the plot is of less interest than the style. Although kids won't have a clue who Raymond Chandler is, his terse, private-eye tone travels surprisingly well, right down to middle-grade levels. The pencil illustrations add to the fun, though why some of the animal characters wear clothes and some don't is puzzling. Fans of this first book in the series will be pleased that more books are on the way. ((Reviewed May 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
Mystery buffs--and newcomers to the genre--will devour Hale's funny chapter books, which feature hotshot detective Chet Gecko and his brainy sidekick, Natalie Attired. In [cf2]The Chameleon,[cf1] Chet and Natalie track down a cheerleader's missing brother. [cf2]Mr. Nice[cf1] pits the duo against hoodlums who intend to turn a school into a training ground for young criminals. Hale's illustrations take the humor up yet another notch. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 April #1
Meet Chet Gecko, fourth grade gumshoe: a private eye with a nose for trouble, a taste for stinkbug pie, and a detachable tail--all of which come into play in this hardboiled series kickoff. The trail to Shirley Chameleon's missing little brother, Jimmy, leads past Old Toady, first grade teacher with a Jell-o addiction, the Rat sisters Rizzo and Nadine, coach `Beef` Stroganoff, and worst of all, huge Herman the Gila Monster, booted off the football team for biting a referee. Along the way, Chet picks up plenty of clues and red herrings, bad jokes (`What do you get when you cross a duck with a trash collector?` `Down in the dumps.`) and a partner, multitalented mockingbird, Natalie Attired. In Hale's black and white illustrations, the motley assortment of tough-looking animals in school clothes will draw as many giggles as Chet's clipped narrative. The tale unwinds to a suitably chaotic climax involving narrow escapes, a football full of garbage and an invasion of yummy (to Chet) giant cockroaches. Here's a worthy successor to Cathy Stefanec-Ogren's Sly, P.I., (not reviewed), and a host of other scaled, furred or feathered sleuths. (Mail and on-line promos, author website, gecko costume available) (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 May #1
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 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 August
Gr 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 Cahners Business Information.