Thursday, April 4, 2019

Picture Book Review: A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo. unpgd. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick Press, April 2, 2019. 9780763677534. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

One of the things I miss most about being a K-8 librarian is regularly reading aloud to a group of younger children. The Mercy Watson books were always an automatic purchase and my students would wiggle with anticipation when they learned there was a new one. Instant attention. They loved seeing the familiar details like the piece of toast that depicted the page number at the bottom. Truthfully, I never wondered how Mercy ever became part of the Watson family. She just was. Silly me.

Becoming reacquainted with Mr. & Mrs. Watson and their neighbors, the Lincoln sisters was an absolute delight. Kate DiCamillo's simple, understated storytelling entrances. Chris Van Dusen's retro illustrations are pure fifties suburban utopia. Chubby, rosy-cheeked Mrs. Watson wondering about being ordinary while vacuuming her perfect little home. Mr. Watson washing his perfect pink car and trimming his perfect green hedges. One night a truckload of pigs rumbles down the street, hits a pothole and out bumps a tiny piglet. She makes her way to the Watson's porch where they find her while retrieving the morning paper. Too heart-meltingly delicious! Of course, Mr. Watson is eating a piece, buttered toast! Of course, the Lincoln sisters are aware of the new arrival. Of course, Eugenia Lincoln does not approve. Of course, Baby Lincoln (oh what a delightful name!) saves the day by bringing warm milk in a bottle!

I mentioned earlier this week in another review that a great series cocoons readers in the comfort of the familiar while introducing new words or concepts. Baby Mercy with her piggy snout, double-chin and pleading eyes entrance the childless, ordinary Watsons immediately. It is love at first sight for them and anyone who reads this lovely story of the creation of family and unconditional love. 

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