The Watermelon Seed
by Coretta Williams

"She would take us on long walks through the neighborhood. It seemed like almost everything we said or did made her laugh."

Summertime is here, and that means time spent with Big Mama. Here, the stepmother stereotype is turned on its head as this fun, loving mom plays dress-up and visits fancy stores with her stepdaughters. One afternoon, while “playing church” at Big Mama’s kitchen table, each child is given a delicious slice of watermelon. The young narrator places a seed in the center of the table, asking God, “Please grow us a watermelon. Thank you!” Because the ground was “very wet and muddy” following a thunderstorm, Williams’ main character decides to plant that seed in an unlikely place: behind the stairs and under the porch in an area receiving little sun or rain. The young girl is delighted when she discovers a tiny little watermelon plant has indeed begun to grow in this most unlikely of places.

This delightful book seems best shared aloud with young ones. Each of the children is presented artistically as flowers in various bold, striking colors, an intriguing element in the bright illustrations which accompany this sweet story. In addition to being the story of a tiny miracle, Williams’ work also provides an important lesson. Big Mama had told the girls not to associate with the kids across the street “because they did bad things.” The girls disobey and show their neighbors the baby watermelon blossoming under the porch. The neighbor kids later smash the plant up into pieces. Naturally, this saddens our main character. Although she will not get to enjoy that particular watermelon, the repentant young narrator determines to “remain obedient and see how tasty and sweet the next one will be.” As such, the important lesson of listening to one’s parents is presented clearly to any young children with whom this tender book is shared.

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