The Magic of Humor: A Review of The Mercy Watson Series

Mercy Watson Kate DeCamillo

The Mercy Watson Series

Author-Kate DeCamillo    Illustrator- Chris Van Dusen  Fountas and Pinnell level-K

The Magic of Humor – Book Review by Marsha Schlanger

The Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo is a delight for many young readers. These stories are witty, funny, and are bound to engage even the most shy, reluctant readers. Mercy Watson is a selfish, good-natured, and lovable pig who is a true ‘porcine wonder’ according to her adopted human parents.

Third grade students have read three of her books with me, and they giggled all the way through to the end. Humor is a wonderful mechanism to engage young readers and establish trust with their coaches during reading sessions. The illustrator, Chris Van Dusen, is very talented, making characters come alive with a ‘vintage cartoon flair,’ where stories can be created just by looking at the pictures. The main character is Mercy Watson, an unexpected heroine in pursuit of her favorite food, buttered toast.

We see the same unique and funny characters in each book, including the grouchy, opinionated neighbor, Eugenia Lincoln, her good-natured sister ‘Baby’ Lincoln, Mercy’s adoring human parents (Mr. and Mrs. Watson), and the firemen Ned and Lorenzo. A strong sense of community is stressed in each book, and everyone ends up eating buttered toast (what else?) at the Watson’s home in a neighborly setting.

History (drive-in movies), figures of speech (‘When Pigs Fly’), and stimulating vocabulary (e.g. porcine and wonky) are cleverly woven into the stories, invoking curiosity and lively conversation. These books celebrate the absurdity of life and the blessing of love – that is, never giving up faith in seeing the best in others.

The students I have coached enjoyed the following books: Mercy Watson to the Rescue, Something Wonky This Way Comes, and Princess in Disguise. These are beginning chapter books, with ample illustrations, humor, colorful characters, and excellent plots to encourage reading and lasting memories.

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