The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon

New Beginnings Volume 1

Children - Grade K-3rd
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 01/10/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I have interests in herbal medicine, art, music, dance, neurosciences, psychology, science fiction, astrology, Reiki, Quantum Touch, experimental cooking and chocolate. Does this plethora of interests makes it easier to be a writer? Maybe. I think reading a lot makes a big difference.

My two children showed me how interesting young people can be. When they were four and six, I went back to school to learn more about child growth and development, received a Masters of Education and a teaching certificate. We all did our homework together. Later, I would veer over to Special Education. I taught preschool through seventh grade, as well as adult education for many years. I once had a grandmother and grandson in my Psychology 101 course—fighting for the highest A.

Adults can be funny. Preschoolers are hilarious! Who else can you interact with (This happened the week the housekeeping center was transformed into a veterinarian's office.) and hear, "Don't get up. You're still dead, teacher. Stay down, dog. Lay down." There is nothing quite like imaginary play!

After moving to Arizona, I found the most amazing group of people with whom I share a love of writing. Since working with this group, I’ve published short stories, poetry, and have completed a book for adults, Parenting: A Work in Progress as well as the first book in a series for children, The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: New Beginnings. The next two books in the series, : School Days and : Summertime are written and waiting for illustration decisions.

I live in Arizona with my husband and our two dogs, Sheila and Bailey.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Barbara Fanson for Readers' Favorite

The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: New Beginnings is a very imaginative story about a chameleon and his family. He even has a pet fish — a fish that gets seasick! Author Ellen Buikema is a very creative writer. Who else would have put a water-helmet on a fish so he can jump up and down on a bed? But, I don’t think I want to join them for breakfast; they’re eating waxworm cereal. When Charlie learns that his father has a new job in another town and they will have to move, he is not too happy. He doesn’t want to move away from his best friend Tamika the turtle, his school, or his soccer team.

Buikema does an excellent job describing the characters and the scenery. The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon even includes a recipe for the Berry Smoothies that Charlie and Tamika drank. The book also includes an email with a secret code activity for readers to solve. Charlie makes friends with Gary Gecko, who wears glasses, and the two play spaceships and astronauts together. They’re even in the same class. I think everyone can relate to Buikema’s lovable characters.

It was nice to see a spaceship activity sheet with instructions on how to build a spaceship, but I wish there was an illustration of the spaceship. Elizabeth Engel’s well-drawn illustrations are helpful and fit the junior grade novel. It’s a short, but captivating read that will keep you spellbound with problems and solutions confronting Charlie daily. And now I’m yearning to read the sequel.

Ellen L. Buikema

I am happy to have received such high marks for the first book in The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series. Frankie the fish-tastic want to let you know that the next two books are written and awaiting illustration decisions.

Writing the Charlie books is a joy. I hope that everyone enjoys the characters as much as I do.


Delightful and Entertaining

An engaging story that will prompt many good discussions with my grandchildren. Recipes and activities included!


I read The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: New Beginnings, and it is a charming book filled with adventures that both boys and girls will find interesting. Charlie is scared because his family is moving to a new town where he knows no one except his grandma. The book is up-to-date incorporating such words as "email" and "cell phones" in the story line, plus it also includes important lessons that children need such as good manners. Children will be entertained with such things as a "fish helmet", Crispy Cricket Flakes (a cereal), earthworm spaghetti, a bully named Boris Bunny, and so on. There are simple recipes such as Mrs. Turtle's Berry Smoothie and my favorite, Chocolate Meatballs, and fun activities such as decoding a secretly coded email from Charlie's pen pal and directions to make a cardboard spaceship. I hope the author of this book writes other children's books because she is very creative and knows how to entertain children's minds.

T. Sanders

This review is by my eleven-year-old daughter who is learning how to write book reviews in school.

The story had a good message for kids about being able to make new friends even if you have to leave your old ones behind. You can always make new ones but you don't have to give up your old ones.

I really liked how it gave little life tips and especially recipes. My favorite was the smoothie one because I love making smoothies!

Michelle W.

We really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read for parents to the kids and the kids enjoyed the story as well. My 11 yr old even decided to read it to our 5 yr old. I think she was mainly wanting to ready it herself but didn't want to admit it. When I asked what parts they all liked the most, my daughter really like the recipe for the smoothie at the end of the chapter,... what a great idea. It keeps kids dialed in and excited to see what's at the end of the upcoming chapters. My 5 yr old boy really like the characters because how unique they are and his favorite animals are lizards. This book is creative and unique and entertaining for all ages. Looking forward to reading Volume 2!


This is an absolutely fabulous book! I am not only a proud Nana, but a retired elementary teacher who is currently tutoring reading for at risk students. Charlie is a delightful character that my kiddos can relate to and his adventures are fun and relate-able. My students find the vocabulary and concepts easy to work with and are excited for the next chapter and then the next adventure. What could be better than a book kids enjoy reading and adults enjoy sharing? How about fun activities within the book to peak curiosity and enhance the reading experience!?! I wish more children's literature were this good ... and I can't wait to share Charlie Chameleon's further adventures.

Carol Fuller

Ellen Buikema nailed it with this much needed book. How many of us have relocated in our lives or just moved because? How many of us have children, grandchildren, know of children, are close to children? This is where The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon:New Beginnings takes hold. It is humorous, yet serious, helpful to both children & adults. It is totally ok kids to have emotions & feelings about moving. It is totally ok & normal to be upset. It is ok to make new friends & experience new things. Read on. Bravo Ms. Buikema

Eldred Bird

Ellen Buikema has created a very likeable cast of characters that appeal to both children and adults. The challenges faced by Charlie and his friends reflect those faced by children every day. Ellen is able to give kids the tools needed to adjust to change through the lessons learned by her characters. Parents can benefit from this book as well, learning new, more effective ways to help their children through tough times. A great start to a very promising series!

Two Cats Press

In this story, Charlie Chameleon faces many new challenges after he and his parents move to Newtown. Leaving behind all that is familiar, Charlie must go to a new school and make new friends. Things become more difficult when he's faced with Boris Bunny, the school bully. Charlie has help, however, from supportive parents and a best buddy: his saucy pet fish, Frankie, who travels with him most everywhere, and lends comic relief when needed.

My grandson loved this book, as did I. The characters come to life through their interactions and often humorous events. The illustrations are great, too, helping to make Charlie's adventures seem even more real. The diversity of the characters is also a plus: besides Boris Bunny, who later becomes a friend, are Gary Gecko, Tamika Turtle, and more.

Charlie's life lessons are tempered with humor, as he gets into scrapes that all small human boys do, too. Also fun are the inventive ways the author has found to create a complete world for these non-human characters. Frankie the fish travels in a "water helmet" in Charlie's backpack, for example, and all the rest have specific traits that derive from their real-world animal counterparts.

Whether or not your children are dealing with "new beginnings," this book is fun and the activities at the end of each chapter will keep them entertained well after they finish reading.


Great childrens book my 7 year old had read and re-read it now for over a year and reads it to her little brother. They both Love the characters and the activities found within the book!


What a wonderfully creative story! I read this story to my 2nd grade classroom and they loved it! Can't wait for the 2nd book!

Traci Sanders

In my fourteen-year career as a preschool teacher, I always made it a point to read any children's book through before sharing it with my children in care. There is just so much rubbish in children's books these days, teachers have to be careful about what they expose little ones to.

Many characters in today's books are spoiled brats and have little to no respect for authority. Others are simply raising themselves, with no authority figures to be found.

Adventures of Charlie Chameleon was a refreshing change of pace from those stereotypical TV shows and books. Charlie Chameleon is respectful and polite; he even teaches his pet fish to have manners. He stands up for what's right by assisting a friend who's being tormented by a school bully, even though he's scared too.

The author goes above and beyond the standard by offering bonus material and fun, intermission-type content to keep readers engaged. A few examples are: instructions on how to build a cardboard spaceship, recipes (I'm totally making the chocolate meatballs), and activities to get readers thinking - like the secret coding. What kid doesn't love mysteries, and secret codes?

Each short story found within this book was like an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Franklin. They're wholesome, engaging, and include a few colorful illustrations that young readers will enjoy to break up the monotony, but not so many that older readers would reject them.

I have to admit, it was strange to encounter the modernized themes found within - email addresses, internet access, etc. But, that's the world in which we now live, so it makes since to include these themes.

I highly recommend parents sit and read these stories with their preschool-aged children, or have their school-aged children read aloud to them. Enriching stories like these should be on the shelves of every parent and educator of young children.