The Tale of Despereaux) once again displays her versatility with this jaunty debut to an early chapter-book series. The tale stars Me"/>

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Kate DiCamillo, Author, Chris Van Dusen, Illustrator , illus. by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick $12.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2270-1

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 (If I Built a Car , reviewed above) 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. Ages 6-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/20/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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