I am a big fan of Kate DiCamillo's books, particularly Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. So two summers ago, when I saw the first installment in her new Mercy Watson series (Mercy Watson to the Rescue), I was delighted! These books are excellent transitional books - great for beginning readers who are ready to leave easy readers behind but find longer chapter books a bit too daunting. The pictures are large, bright, and amusing, and there are very few long, uninterrupted blocks of text to put off reluctant readers.
The premise behind the series is that Mr. and Mrs. Watson have a beloved pet pig, Mercy, who, in their words, is a "porcine wonder." Mercy is motivated by one thing: food, particularly toast with a great deal of butter on it - but her fond owners firmly believe she is intelligent, capable, and heroic. Mercy's exploits typically involve a search for food that leads to hilarious trouble, but Mercy somehow comes out looking like a hero and smelling like a rose (much to the dismay of grumpy neighbor Eugenia Lincoln, who has many opinions, including one that says pigs should not be kept as pets.
In this fourth book in the series, Mercy submits to wearing an uncomfortably snug princess costume for Halloween, because she likes the sound of "treat" in trick-or-treating. Chaos ensues when Mercy meets Eugenia's new pet cat, General Washington, which involves an impromptu Halloween parade through the neighborhood, the calling of the fire department, and, of course, toast with a great deal of butter on it. The story is fun, and Van Dusen's whimsical pictures complement the text beautifully, ensuring extra laughs.
Find some kids and read this book to them. Read the whole series! You'll grin the whole way through, guaranteed.
Books in the Mercy Watson series:
1. Mercy Watson to the Rescue
2. Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride
3. Mercy Watson Fights Crime
4. Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
5. Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig
6. Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick Press, 2007)