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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
"Kids will grab this for the immediacy in the scenes, the brutal standoffs, the fast talk at the ball court, and the elemental conflicts of coming-of-age." - Booklist

Shooting the breeze with his boys. Tightening his D on the court. Doing a color check — making sure nobody's wearing blue or red, which some Crip or Piru carrying a cut-down golf club would see as disrespect.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Candlewick (first published September 23rd 2008)
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Dec 26, 2014 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt kind of didactic to me. The protagonist, Shawn, has doubts and fears and considers making some bad choices, but basically he's a model 14-year-old in spite of many adults expecting him to be some kind of delinquent. Perhaps the author intended Shawn to be a role model for his readers. But if that's so, it makes it all the more irritating that Shawn's only way of interacting with his female peers is to objectify them. Maybe that's just realistic for a 14-year-old boy; I have never been ...more
Ms. Yingling
Shawn is growing up under somewhat difficult circumstances-- his mother is working and in school, his parents are divorced, his neighborhood is not great, and he is "babysat" by a depressed, alcoholic aunt who frequently is embarrassingly drunk. Still, he has friends who try hard to stay out of trouble (they check themselves for gang colors before going to play basketball) and with whom he has some great times. He has parents who encourage him academically and ask questions when he seems to be o ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by LaLeesha Haynes for

"The Crips and Pirus are black just like me, but they might as well be white and I might as well be living in the segregated South, because as far as I'm concerned if you can't wear what you want or go where you want, when you want, then you ain't free."

Charles R. Smith's CHAMELEON is a coming-of-age story that takes us into the heart of Los Angeles and the challenges that the main character, Shawn, is facing.

Throughout this book we see how baske
An excellent YA novel about young men of color. While gangs and basketball play prominent roles in the plots, this novel is different because it mixes a lazy summer day feel with the tensions and terrors of adolescence. And shock of shock, it does it well. Unlike other novels about driftless teens in the summer, the main character is compelling enough to make the format work. Shawn balances normal teen emotions with the rough gang-ridden urban setting and an unexpected sense of joy that steams f ...more
Oct 30, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teen boys who want to read a sports story that involves gangs.
Shelves: teenfiction
A good solid book for an older middle school or young high school boy to read.

It's summer in Compton, CA, and Shawn and his 3 friends are trying to have fun and keep out of major trouble at the same time. They play a lot of b-ball and check themselves for gang colors each morning before they go out. The Crips and Pirus are notorious and violent and they try to avoid crossing their paths as much as possible.

Shawn experiences his first crush on a girl, takes care of his alcoholic aunt, while dea
Feb 01, 2016 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
too long
Feb 16, 2016 LeAnne marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Con recommendation
Jun 14, 2010 jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This book would appeal to an adolescent boy. The main character has to navigate life with an alcoholic aunt, parents who are divorced but who get along and the intricacies of wandering their neighborhood w/o crossing color boundaries. He and his friends support each other and Shawn has to make tough decisions about where and what he wants to do with his life.
Erin Furness-wilkins
This should have been a quick read but, because it did not "hook" me, I had a hard time pushing through. It was predictable. I kept waiting for something to happen...
Good! Family friends in between the life of gang violence
Oct 09, 2012 Angelique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer, and poet with more than thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for illustration for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem "My People" and a Coretta Scott King Honor for his biography of Muhammad Ali, Twelve Rounds to Glory. He is the author of Rimshots, Hoop Kings, Hoop Queens, Tall Ta ...more
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