I had not previously heard of Mercy Watson, the pig who is the main protagonist of her own series of books although A’s first-grade teacher apparently read some of her stories to his class. However, I got the chance to receive a review copy of the newest addition to Mercy’s stories, A Piglet Named Mercy, a picture book prequel aimed at W’s age group (ages two to five).
The book itself is written by Kate DiCamillo, winner of two Newberry Medals. You might recognize her from some of her other well-known books like The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie. The illustrator, Chris Van Dusen has worked on the other Mercy related books as well as The Circus Ship, King Hugo’s Huge Ego, Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, and Hattie & Hudson.
A Piglet Named Mercy is the origin story of how Mercy came to the Watson family after falling off of a truck. We have several rescue animals of our own, including one dog that had been left in a box on the side of the road with his litter at four weeks old, so I have a soft spot for animals that need to find homes.
In the story, the Watsons were living lives just a little too ordinary for their tastes when Mercy shows up to make their lives much more interesting. The Watsons are immediately very taken with the piglet they found figuring she’ll make that ordinary life a thing of the past. The elderly Lincoln sisters who live neary have different reactions to the newest addition to their neighborhood (one thinks she’s the best thing, the other not so much). It is not long before the Watsons sort out how to care for this surprise pig, discover her love of toast (W loved this part the best), and give her the name “Mercy.”
W took to the story right away and loved the illustrations (he thought the first image of Mercy was particularly cute) and promptly wanted to take the book to bed with him when we had finished reading it. The story, and seeing the Watsons taking care of Mercy, was particularly fun for him. As he starts learning to read soon I think he’ll be excited to graduate up into the early reader Mercy stories. He wanted to know more about them when I mentioned them.
It’s a sweet story that I think lots of kids will love and I really like that W can grow with the stories as he becomes a more independent reader. The illustrations leave you with that warm and cozy feeling that really appeals to kids. I have a feeling those other Mercy books will soon be joining our library collection.