I’m not sure where I was when the Mercy Watson books hit the shelves in 2009 or so, but they have somehow missed my radar completely until very recently. At our local library, the children’s librarian and I often chat book talk and she and I compare notes and ogle over illustrations together; I’ve even been able to pass on tips to her. Anyway, she is the one who pulled out Mercy Watson to the Rescue and suggested my kids would like it. I only checked the book out to be polite, without giving it much glance at the time.
But she was right. My children—ages 2 thru 11—all love Mercy Watson! Who knew?! They were written by the same talented Kate DiCamillo who gives us The Tale of Despereaux and illustrated by one of my children’s favorites Chris Van Dusen… whose art is the closest thing to animation in a picture book you’re ever going to see. (We love his A Camping Spree, Learning to Ski, and Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee).
Anyway, Mercy Watson, much like Stuart Little is an animal with human parents. She is pleasant and plump and curious. And, just like me, she has an affinity for toast “with a great deal of butter” which is brought up in every book. She is great fun and even funner are the old lady neighbors next door…
These books are FANTASTIC first chapter books. They are short, highly illustrated, easily digestible, large font chapters. Yet, at a total of 75 pages or so, it could still be read in one sitting to a child out loud in about 15-20 minutes. What more could one want?! Children feel so awesome when they read such “mature” books and this is an excellent segue from picture books into that world. I’m so happy we found them. After reading four out of the six in the series, I’m confident that I want to buy them all to have on hand for that perfect window of time when a child is ready for a bit more of a challenge than easy readers. And being a sucker for “boxed sets,” there happens to be an attractive gift option for a certain someone’s upcoming Christmas gift: Mercy Watson Boxed Set: Adventures of a Porcine Wonder. Superb.