Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig

Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig

Fall 2008 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0763632656
Hardcover Price: $12.99
Kate Dicamillo is the award-winning author of a number of books, including The Tale of Desperaux and Because of Winn-Dixie. Chris Van Dusen is her jaunty illustrator and she rightly smothers him with credit in the acknowledgements. His smart pop art brings the story of Mr. and Mrs. Watson's porcine wonder Mercy to life.

That's not to knock Dicamillo. It would be easy to skimp on words at this reading level; early readers are just discovering the wonders of them. You can coast on the pictures, but she doesn't. From her lively character names - Francine Poulet runs the Animal Control; Baby and Eugenia Lincoln are the elderly sisters next door -- to her neat turns-of-phrase, her writing never panders. I love, for instance, that Mercy is characterized as porcine. Like mothers who sneak squash into the mac-and-cheese, it's cheering to see children's book authors sprinkling hearty vocabulary through their fun stuff.

Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig is the fifth Mercy Watson adventure, all with Van Dusen behind the easel. The basic conceit is wonderful -- a pig who courts trouble but makes things right again with a nice batch of buttered toast. The short book is organized into nice bite-sized chapters, making it easy to start and stop, or swallow whole in one sitting.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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