Friday, September 11, 2009

Something Wonky This Way Comes

It's always a happy day in my household when I come home from work with a new Mercy Watson book! Even though both my girls are well beyond the reading level of these books, they still love them. Who wouldn't love reading about the antics of Mercy Watson, the porcine wonder, depicted with such bright, humorous illustrations?

Mercy is a happy pig, the surrogate child of Mr. and Mrs. Watson, who firmly believe she is unusually intelligent and perceptive. In reality, Mercy is a sweet and friendly pig who, given any particular situation, typically does what any toast-with-a-great-deal-of-butter-loving pig would do. At the end of the day, she comes off smelling like a rose, and the Watsons are further convinced that she is truly a porcine wonder.

In this installment, Mercy accompanies Mr. and Mrs. Watson to the movies to see a film called When Pigs Fly. Mercy is unimpressed until she hears that the drive-in movie theater serves popcorn with real butter. Then she's as excited as can be. Their elderly next-door neighbors, Eugenia and Baby Lincoln, join them in their convertible, along with some neighborhood children. When they reach the theater, Mercy is entranced by the smell of hot buttered popcorn, and off she goes in search of some, with hilarious results.

Favorite characters from previous books are at the movies, too, including police officer Tomilello, animal control officer Francine Poulet, firemen Ned and Lorenzo, and even Leroy Ninker, the little burglar from Mercy Watson Fights Crime, who has given up his illegal ways and is now working at the popcorn stand. It was bittersweet to see them all, because this is, sadly, the final book in the Mercy Watson series. Although...in a note in the back of the book, Kate DiCamillo does leave room for hope, because saying that is the final book makes her very sad: "I hate writing those words. I hate writing them so much that I might have to write another Mercy Watson book just to cheer myself up." I certainly hope she does!

These are excellent transitional books for growing readers who have mastered the elementary easy readers and are yearning to move on to chapter books. The print is large and bold, the lines spaced neatly apart, and there are colorful illustrations on nearly every page. The stories are equally appealing to boys and girls, and particularly to those who enjoy funny books. Some of the surnames are difficult for new readers to sound out (Tomilello and Leapaleoni, for example), but they are fun to say once you get them down. Even more advanced readers can certainly enjoy a quick Mercy Watson read - I get a grin on my face every time I open one of these books. Mercy Watson is, without a doubt, most definitely a porcine wonder. If you haven't met her yet, I urge you to make her acquaintance without delay!

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: Something Wonky This Way Comes (#6 in the Mercy Watson series) by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, 2009)

Also reviewed at:
Back to Books: "Another fine entry, though not our favourite, in the Mercy Watson series, which is perfect reading for kids who are at the age where they can read but are not ready to move away from large print or still want to have colourful pictures."
Creative Literacy: "This book is definitely full of characters, Mercy mischief, lots of buttery foods (Mercy's favorite), new language and vocabulary for transitional readers and lots to talk about."
Toby: "The awesome thing about this book is that all of the characters from the other five books come together for what I believe is the best Mercy Watson adventure ever."

10 comments:

  1. Mercy still entertains my thrid grader, who's moved beyond this series, and my first grader, who likes to listen on CD and follow along in the book.

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  2. Wonky is one of my all-time favorite British words. Too cute!

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  3. Mercy Watson rules. My daughter reviewed this book on another blog. If you want to see what she has to say, it's at www.patzietlowmiller.com

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  4. Caroline - Mine are in 3rd and 5th and still love her. I'm dreading the day I'll bring one (or something similar) home, and I'll end up reading it myself because they will feel far too mature for it. Won't that be sad?!

    Tricia - Wonky is a great word. I'm going to start using it more often. :-)

    Anonymous - I loved your daughter's review, and how you gave her that framework for it. I am sending the link to my 8yo who has a book blog, too (although she hasn't posted much lately). Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Great review Darla! You are a talented writer.

    I'm a bit of dingbat aren't I? I didn't even bother to read the author note at the back about it being the last book. I just guessed it was! That'll teach me to skip author's notes. Come to think of it I never read them when I do read alouds, next time I'll try and see if ds will listen to it.

    Heck, I have a hard time sounding out Leapaleoni!

    Thanks for the link.

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  6. I stumbled over that name a few times myself, and I speak Italian! The girls thought it was funny. It does have the feel of a wrap-up to it, so it was good to get some hope from her that there may be more to come. It does sound like she and Chris Van Dusen have a blast doing the books, and they're clearly selling well, so it seems a bit arbitrary to stop the series here.

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  7. Maybe they can start a new series starring General Washington, then Mercy can make a guest appearance in each one.

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  8. Nicola - That would be fun! :-)

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  9. We love Mercy in our house, too, and were thrilled to find the new book. I was sad to see Leroy Ninker looking not entirely reformed.

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  10. Girl Detective - You know, you are right! It is kind of a bummer that Leroy's stuck with the popcorn stand and reformed, and not out west doing his cowboy thing. Maybe she'll have to remedy that in a subsequent book. :-)

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