The Mercy Watson Series for Beginning Readers

Award-Winning Silly Fun

Mercy Watson: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder - cover of boxed set of books
Mercy Watson: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder by Kate DiCamillo, Boxed Set. Candlewick Press

The Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo: Summary

The title character in the Mercy Watson series is a pig who loves toast and butter. She lives in the home of her human owners, Mr. and Mrs. Watson. Although Mercy is a pig, the Watsons treat her as a beloved child, and many of the mix-ups that ensue result from that.

The two elderly ladies who live next door, Eugenia Lincoln and her younger sister Baby Lincoln, have differing views about Mercy.

Eugenia does not like Mercy; she thinks pigs should live on farms, not in houses. However, Baby thinks Mercy is "good company." The differing points of view, humorous stories and lively and colorful illustrations by Chris Van Dusen provide laugh out loud fun for beginning readers. Younger kids enjoy the books as read alouds.

The Stories

Much of the humor in the Mercy Watson series comes from all of the misunderstandings that result from the varying points of view regarding Mercy. The Watson's point of view is that Mercy is as smart as a human; in fact, they consider her a "porcine wonder." Eugenia is so suspicious of Mercy that from her point of view, Mercy can do nothing right. While Baby has a more positive view, her sister pays no attention to her. As for Mercy, she generally has one thought in her mind: food, particularly buttered toast. Despite what the others may think, from Mercy's point of view, finding food is usually, although not always, the most important thing.

The illustrations will particularly appeal to kids who love animated cartoons because the style of Chris Van Dusen's work, which is full of humor, movement and color, looks very like what you see in animated movies. The stories are full of humor, action, slapstick and stock characters. These books are for children who enjoy silly stories with familiar, consistent main characters and a dependable framework.

In each book, you can usually depend on something strange happening that involves Mercy, the Watsons' fretting and Mercy eager for a snack. In each book Baby becomes upset with her sister, Eugenia, because she complains to the authorities who send help, usually firemen and/or police officers. In one instance, Eugenia calls Animal Control and Baby warns the Watsons that, "An unmentionable horror approaches." By the end of each book, however, things have settled down and each story ends with everyone enjoying toast with lots of butter at the Watson's house.

The first book in the series, Mercy Watson to the Rescue is a good example. When Mercy Watson hops into the Watson's bed on the second floor, the added weight causes the bed to start to fall through the floor. Chaos ensues as Mercy runs off to look for a snack while the Watsons assume Mercy has gone off to get help.

When she can't find a snack, Mercy goes over to the Lincoln's looking for food. In the dark, Baby thinks Mercy's a monster and Eugenia calls the fire department. The firemen rescue the Watsons, Eugenia catches the pig, Mercy is praised for getting help (except by Eugenia) and everyone sits down to Mercy's favorite breakfast, toast with lots and lots of butter.

Author Kate Di Camillo and Illustrator Chris Van Dusen

Kate DiCamillo is the award-winning author of middle grade fiction, picture books and books for beginning readers. Her books include: Bink and Gollie, 2011 Theodor Seusss Geisel Award Medal winner for beginning reader books (co-authored with Alison McGhee), The Tale of Despereaux, a fairy tale for readers aged 8-12, and Flora and Ulysses, a most unusual tale, for which DiCamillo received the John Newbery Medal, Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor Book, and , a Christmas picture book.

Chris Van Dusen is both an author and an illustrator. He has a BFA from The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. Van Dusen's first book, Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee was published in 2000. Since then, in addition to illustrating the books in the Mercy Watson series, he's written and illustrated several more picture books about Mr. Magee, as well as The Circus Ship, If I Built a Car, King Hugo's Huge Ego and Randy Riley's Really Big Hit.

General Information About the Series

  • Categories: Books for beginning readers, early chapter books, humorous series
  • Length of Books: 68 to 87 pages long
  • Audience: Grades 1-3, ages 6-8, beginning readers
  • Available formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio book, box set
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press

Books in the Mercy Watson Series

  • Mercy Watson to the Rescue
    Length: 68 pages long
    Publication Date: 2005
    ISBN: 9780763622701

     

  • Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride
    Length: 73 pages long
    Publication Date: 2006
    ISBN: 9780763623326

     

  • Mercy Watson Fights Crime
    Length: 70 pages long
    Publication Date: 2006
    ISBN: 9780763625900

     

  • Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
    Length: 71 pages long
    Publication Date: 2007
    ISBN: 9780763630140

     

  • Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig
    Length: 74 pages long
    Publication Date: 2008
    ISBN: 9780763632656

     

  • Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes
    Length: 87 pages long
    Publication Date: 2009
    ISBN: 9780763636449

My Recommendation

The Mercy Watson series is a lot of fun, and I recommend it for beginning readers, ages 6-8.  When children are just learning to read, finding a series they like can help to keep them reading and improving their reading skills. If your children aren't ready to tackle the books on their own, you can read along with them or take turns. Whatever you do, have a good time!