A tender, incoherent childbirth tale much in need of further editorial and design work.
A watermelon seller lovingly pats his wife’s swelling belly before going off to work. He then spins a news item about a Japanese researcher who has developed cubical melons into a story about a man born round. The man in the watermelon vendor’s story is so effectively forced into the mold of his square world that he’s later shocked, like his square wife, to learn that “their seeds, like watermelon seeds, will always produce round humans and round watermelons.” Though the narrating vendor admits that his daughter “will be added to the national population statistics as a little square,” he closes with the assertion that “our circle has grown” with her birth. Looking like paper dolls in the illustrations, cartoon figures nod, gesture and sometimes slide across simply drawn backgrounds as soothing music tinkles loudly enough to, at times, almost drown out the optional narration. As if the patchwork story isn’t distraction enough, there are several typos, along with page turns that frequently require multiple swipes to respond. Furthermore, though the text is available in eight languages, the audio narration only comes in two; rather than being linked, the audio options and the printed text must be set separately to match.
Sweet and soothing on a quick pass, but closer attention just reveals a confusing jumble. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)