Do pigs belong in houses? Can pigs eat toast and nap on couches and go to drive-in movies? In the world of Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson and Deckawoo Drive tales, the answer is “yes!” Using the disarming and butter-loving pig named Mercy, this series of books for young readers amuses and inspires. Does this spread of children's books look like your normal fare? Even if it doesn't, I suggest a sampling. Having fallen in love with this whole collection, I decided to devote a special end-of-summer edition of Endpapers to Mercy Watson. Read on to find out why!
(If your readers at home are too old for Mercy, add these to your gift lists for the younger readers in your life.)
Start with the original Mercy Watson series, in which Mercy manages to rile up Eugenia Lincoln, the pig-averse neighbor, and somehow involve community helpers (like local firemen Lorenzo and Ned, Officer Tomilello, or animal control officer Francine Poulet) in every story. Get to know side characters, like the Lincoln sisters and the young siblings Frank and Stella, as well as Mercy’s own Mr. and Mrs. Watson. The stories use repeated words (potentially annoying, but actually quite delightful – and great for emerging readers) and surprising plot twists to keep attention of kids and parent readers too. The picture book, A Piglet Named Mercy, provides an adorable backstory and the spinoff series Tales from Deckawoo Drive brings the depths of real life to accessible knee-deep waters.
How many Tales from Deckawoo Drive have hit, with bulls-eye accuracy, the tender parts of my own heart? At least half of them. These books, which leave Mercy in the wings and develop the stories of her supporting cast, put their sweet heroes up against their own worst fears and foibles, sweetly guiding them toward growth and maturity. Can crotchety old Eugenia make room in her heart for music? Can the wide-eyed dreamer Leroy take real responsibility for the dreams that are coming true? What will Franklin do with the unsettling uncertainty of an unmarked key? You may find that the Deckawoo Drive neighbors have more to teach you than you might expect.