The Watermelon Seed

Greg Pizzoli. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-7101-0
Classic kid fear: accidentally swallow a watermelon seed, and the result will be a botanical version of what the zombie virus does to folks in The Walking Dead: vines will come out of your ears, and pretty soon you’ll turn pink and wind up a morsel in someone else’s fruit salad. In this first book from Pizzoli, the goal isn’t to assuage readers’ fears, but he does defuse them with help from an adorable bug-eyed crocodile who’s hooked on watermelon (“Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby crocodile, it’s been my favorite. CHOMP! SLURP! CHOMP!”). Pizzoli’s ostensibly simple cartooning is actually quite clever: he plays with framing and scale to gently spoof the crocodile’s horror-movie imaginings (“It’s growing in my guts!”), while the limited but luscious palette (watermelon pink and green, of course) and a subtly pulpy texture make each spread good enough to eat. It’s an expert debut, and one with a valuable lesson, to boot: a hearty burp can brighten even the darkest hour. Ages 3–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/11/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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