Perfect Just As You Are: Howard the Average Gecko

Howard the Average Gecko by Wendy Meddour; illustrated by Carmen Saldana

There’s a lot of pressure to be incredible; to be special and the best. It can be overwhelming. But did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, you’re perfect just as you are?


author: Wendy Meddour

illustrations: Carmen Saldana

Oxford Childrens Books (1 April 2021)

ISBN: 9780192777348

Howard thinks he’s the most exceptional creature in all the rainforest! That’s because no other creature is as exceptionally camouflaged as him. (It’s really a little irritating.) He’s been so busy celebrating his exceptional quality, Howard has forgotten to look around. But then, Howard discovers the rainforest is full of other camouflaged creatures. In fact, they’re everywhere. Oh no! Howard isn’t that exceptional after all! If he’s not exceptional, what is he then? And he begins to wonder…who will love him if he’s just…an average gecko? Fortunately, Howard meets Dolores…

This charming little picturebook takes us on quite a journey. Introducing the important idea that you don’t have to be exceptional; being simply who you are is enough in this quirky, warm and funny story. Howard himself is a wonderful character; happy, free-spirited, naive and excited to make his mark on the world. And it is clear that all he wants is to be loved and admired…like every young child. In the beginning, Howard is exceedingly pleased with himself and absolutely convinced that no one, absolutely no one is as brilliant and wonderful as he, due to his unique camouflaging capabilities. When he discovers that he’s been missing the same quality in others, at first he is devastated. Then, upon meeting someone who doesn’t care that maybe he’s just average, a quiet joy spreads throughout his little gecko heart and all is well. From pride to disappointment to happiness, the cleverly expressive illustrations match the mood of the text as they deftly display the full range of feeling as Howard makes his way to accepting himself as he is, appreciating others along the way. The pictures reveal an extraordinary, rich and brightly coloured glance at rainforest life while maintaining a child-friendly, magical landscape.

And if that’s not enough, the final page talks about camouflage in the animal world; why and how animals use camouflage and asks young readers to have a closer look back through the pages to find the many, many camouflaged creatures there. In doing this, it encourages them to take a closer look at the world around them, like Howard.

The whole book lends emotional support and boosts self-confidence, helping children to reach the understanding that they don’t need to be anything other than what they are; that ‘average’ is okay. Because what they are is simply perfect. It sings this message with joy and delight. Entertaining, humourous, loving and, well…exceptional. I utterly loved it!

Thank you to Oxford Childrens’ Books for sending a review copy of the book! And to Wendy Meddour and Carmen Saldana for creating such a marvelous, exceptional story.

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