view an inside spread
read a sample chapter
teachers' guide
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illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press, August 2005
Early chapter book, ISBN 0-7636-2270-2

Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson—the beloved "porcine wonder" of the Watson household. In this first episode, the Watsons need rescuing when their bed—after Mercy hops on—begins to slowly sink through the floor. Mercy escapes—"to alert the fire department," her owners assure themselves. But could Mercy have another emergency in mind—like a sudden craving for their neighbors’ sugar cookies?

From the Author
"Mercy Watson had been in my head for a long time," says Kate DiCamillo, "but I couldn’t figure out how to tell her story. One day, my friend Alison was going on and on and on about the many virtues of toast. As I listened to her, I could see Mercy nodding in emphatic agreement. Sometimes you don’t truly understand a character until you know what she loves above all else."

Read the Reviews
Oh, Mercy, what a pig! Mercy is a fat little porker, a beloved member of the Watson family. When Mr and Mrs. Watson sing her a happy morning song, she feels as warm inside as buttered toast. But when the lights go off, Mercy is so scared she gets in bed with the Watsons. The bed breaks under the weight, which leads to a series of hysterical events. The Watsons think Mercy is on the way to call the fire department, when, in fact, she wants to see if next-door neighbor Baby Lincoln has any buttered toast. After another misunderstanding and a merry chase, the firemen arrive--just in time to rescue the Watsons, who are about to fall through the floor. Mercy is a heroine (to the Watsons, at least), resulting in more songs and towers of toast. Appropriate as both a picture book and a beginning reader, this joyful story combines familiar elements (the unexpected heroine, the mean neighbor) with a raucous telling that lets readers in on the joke. Van Dusen's artwork is also spot-on. The gouache illustrations are polished to a sheen and have plenty of heft. The characters are exaggerated with a vintage cartoon flair; Mercy, for instance, looks like a piggy bank that has sprung to life. Another jolly adventure about Mercy is in the works. —Ilene Cooper, Booklist

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 ... 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. —Publishers Weekly

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