I decided to write the Charlie Chameleon books after working with parents and a wide range of students from different socio-economic areas. All children have troubles of one kind or another, regardless of their background. We all benefit from those who show empathy. My series emphasizes empathy using a great deal of humor. As I see it, the more we feel for and understand each other, the better off we all will be.
My mood varied during the writing of all the books. For School Days, several events that occur in the book actually happened to me and others I have known through the years. Sometimes I'd laugh while typing some of the dialog, sometimes I was very sad.
Reading The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon series helps children develop empathy and cultivate insight into their lives. The stories cover situations children typically encounter like getting lost, moving, starting a new school, making friends, family vacations, working in a team, and dealing with bullies using a positive method.
The animals possess human characteristics. Charlie Chameleon takes his pet fish, Frankie, wherever he goes. Frankie is a brat, but doesn't see himself as anything other than fish-tastic.
Although Frankie is a secondary character, he often provides comic relief and has become a favorite of many readers. Because of this, I have included an Ask Frankie page to my website where children, with help from an adult, may send questions via the contact page, to Charlie, Frankie and the other characters in the books. The characters respond to questions on the Ask Frankie page found here http://ellenbuikema.com/ask-frankie/
The activities found at the end of each chapter are a big hit with children, parents, and teachers. When I travel to schools for author visits, those students who have already read the books frequently tell me about the activities they have tried and found fun.
School Days and the first volume, The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: New Beginnings, are being used in an ESL classroom Mexico City. I am very pleased to know that my books are enjoyed, but it is especially wonderful that they are helping children learn English.