Funny thing about Kate DiCamillo—she does not write the same book twice. From Because of Winn-Dixie to Tiger Rising and on to her Newbery-winning The Tale of Despereaux, DiCamillo has always followed her own heart and voice. Her latest departure is the first of a promised series about an overfed, overindulged pig named Mercy Watson. Artist Chris Van Dusen joins in the fun with full-color gouache illustrations. With its straightforward story line, repeated text and hilarious illustrations, this new series should delight young readers.
You might not know any house pigs, but my friend Helen lives with her pig Forkie, and Mercy's life seems rather close to Forkie's life of pampered pig bliss. She gets to eat the food she likes, in Mercy's case buttered toast, and she gets to sleep where she likes, right between the equally well-fed Mr. and Mrs. Watson. The Watsons might be smart enough to have the perfect pet, but they are not too bright when it comes to solving life's little problems. For this, they need their pig friend.
One night, while the three of them are enjoying a night of repose and dreams of toast, they are awakened by the sound of the floor creaking and breaking. Unable to move or reach the phone, the Watsons are sure that Mercy, who has jumped out of bed, is off to find rescuers. Mercy has more than rescue on her mind; toast with a great deal of butter is her motivation. In a hilarious turn of events, Mercy does indeed manage to find help for her hapless parents—but not before an all-out search for sustenance disrupts her elderly neighbors, Baby and Eugenia, and requires the services of Ned and Lorenzo, the local firefighters.
In the end, Mercy is no longer just a pig, but a full-fledged porcine wonder. She has saved the day and her reward is a big stack of toast with a great deal of butter. Enthusiastic young fans will eagerly await the further adventures of their new favorite pig. Copyright 2005 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
When Mercy, a "porcine wonder" much-loved by her owners, is too afraid to sleep alone, she gets into bed with Mr. and Mrs. Watson, setting off a chain of events that result in the fire department's coming to the rescue. The gouache paintings have an old-fashioned feel; the silly story and exaggerated pictures will put smiles on lots of faces. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 September #1
Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner's bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen's gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo's tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo's tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - February 2006
Mercy, an adorable little pig, is the main character in this beginning chapter book. Mr. and Mrs. Watson treat her as a regular member of their family. They sing her to sleep at night and feed her hot buttered toast. One night she cannot sleep alone so she leaves her bed and joins the Watsons in theirs. As the three of them are dreaming, the overcrowded bed begins to break through the floor. While Mr. and Mrs. Watson argue about what to do next, Mercy manages to jump from the bed and go off in search of a snack. She scares the elderly neighbors, who proceed to call the fire department. When the firemen arrive, they hear the cries for help and save the Watsons before the bed lands on the floor below. As a result, Mercy is credited with saving her family just in time for breakfast. The bright, colorful illustrations clearly depict Mercy's emotions through all of her antics. Her worried expression as the bed is falling, her joy as she looks for a snack, and her playfulness as she plays chase with the neighbors show her wonderful personality. A "sneak peek" at Mercy's next adventure is included. The combination of an entertaining story and expressive illustrations will appeal to readers who are ready for their first chapter book. Recommended. Kathleen Harrity, Librarian, Hudson (Massachusetts) Public Schools Â© 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 June #3
Newbery Medalist DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux) once again displays her versatility with this jaunty debut to an early chapter-book series. The tale stars Mercy, a pig with personality a-plenty-and a penchant for "hot toast with a great deal of butter on it." When Mr. and Mrs. Watson tuck Mercy into bed at night and switch off the light, their pet no longer feels "warm and buttery-toasty inside" and decides "she would be much happier if she wasn't sleeping alone." So she climbs into the Watsons' bed and dreams of hot buttered toast, until the overloaded bed begins to fall through the floor. Mercy's obsession prompts her to hop off the bed-her devoted owners convinced that she's gone to summon the fire department. Alas, the peckish porcine's single-minded pursuit leads her to the kind next-door neighbor and ultimately does prompt a call to the fire department-but not before a series of comical twists (involving the kind neighbor's sister, Eugenia, who is of the opinion that "pigs should not live in houses"). Van Dusen's (If I Built a Car, reviewed above) boldly hued, tactically hyperbolic gouache paintings tap into the narrative's wry humor and joie de vivre-a memorable sequence depicts Eugenia in curlers and bathrobe chasing Mercy through the yards and winding up in an exhausted heap atop the porker heroine. Everyone ends up around the Watsons' table where the besotted couple piles up the undeserved toast for their "porcine wonder"-a fitting cap to this animated pig tale. Ages 6-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 October
K-Gr 2 -Mercy Watson, a disarmingly charming pig adopted by a loving human family, makes her debut in this new series of chapter books for beginning readers. After the Watsons tuck Mercy into bed with a sweet song and a kiss, she feels "warm inside, as if she has just eaten hot toast with a great deal of butter on it." However, afraid of the dark, she snuggles into bed with the couple. Moments later, all three are rudely awakened from their lovely dreams with a "BOOM!" as their bed falls into a hole that has opened in the floor beneath them. In hot pursuit of buttered toast, "the porcine wonder" inadvertently gets help and saves the day. Along the way, she causes great, humorous distress to the next-door Lincoln sisters. Van Dusen's bright gouache illustrations have a jovial exaggerated style and capture the sometimes frantic action and silliness of Mercy's "heroic" escapade.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI[Page 112]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.