Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Porker in Pink: Mercy Watson, Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo

Mercy Watson, the world's most pampered pig, is back for Halloween in her funniest adventure yet in the beginning chapter series by Newbery author Kate DiCamillo.

At first Mercy is underwhelmed by the too tight pink princess gown and the ear-pinching tiara that Mr. and Mrs. Watson procure for her, but when she finds out about the treats, visions of hot buttered toast dance in Mercy's head, and she slips into her frou-frou-ish frock in a flash and is off to trick-or-treat. "A porcine vision!" proclaims Mrs. Watson.

Of course, her first doorbell is that belonging to the spinster Lincoln sisters, supercilious Eugenia and her kinder, gentler sibling Baby.

"She looks just like a princess," gushes Baby.

"She looks just like a pig in a cheap dress," sneers Eugenia.

Baby sneaks Mercy into the kitchen for some Butter Barrel treats, where Mercy unfortunately encounters the Lincoln's cat General Washington, and the chase is on. With the Watsons in their holiday getups and the Lincoln sisters in full pursuit behind them, trick-or-treaters Stella and Frank think it's a Halloween parade and follow at full speed. It's a chain reaction rear-ender as all of them arrive just as General Washington gets himself stuck high in the top of a suitably spooky tree.

As usual, firemen Ned and Lorenzo and their long ladder are summoned to the rescue, which, as usual, gives Mrs. Watson a great idea. "We should have a party!" she exclaims joyfully. Fireman Ned urges little Stella and Frank to join the celebration. "You're in for a treat," he tells them. "The toast here is excellent."

Although her princess gown is still too tight, Mercy is content. "Bread was toasting; butter was melting.... It was worth it."

In Mercy Watson, Princess in Disguise Kate DiCamillo is in her finest comic form, and Chris Van Dusen's illustrations are the best yet.

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