An interactive and funky text transmits the message that it’s OK to just be yourself.
Eager to prove he’s not just another fish in the sea, Bill the Fish likes to say that he is “happy being me” and begins by highlighting his quirky habits, like eating breakfast for dinner and enjoying painting with his snail friend, Fred. Bill’s habits and characteristics are then contrasted with a motley crew of his fellow sea creatures, which range from a prawn with a beard to a stylish jellyfish called Kelly. The text features an easy-to-follow narrator whose clipped British accent adds to the silliness of the short and simple rhyming text. Unfortunately for those who chose to follow along with the printed text or read to themselves, the type used presents a confusing and inconsistent mix of upper- and lower-case letters. Interactive elements include zany sound effects (some of which make sense, while others don't), animated characters that are activated by tapping and a few characters that can be “dressed — up” by dragging and dropping elements like hats and beards. Bright, colorful painted illustrations pair well with the text, but renditions of the characters vary in quality, providing a sense of inconsistency that can be distracting.
Despite its good intentions, readers may find Bill’s message of individuality and acceptance lost in the catalogue of characteristics. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)