Posted in Fiction, Intermediate

Books from Quarantine: Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem by Kate DiCamillo

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem, by Kate DiCamillo/Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Tales from Deckawoo Drive), (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536201802

Ages 7-10

When my bigger little ones (my first and second graders, usually) come into the library, many of them automatically ask me for Mercy Watson books. They love Kate DiCamillo, they love Mercy Watson and all her friends on Deckawoo Drive, and they love Kate DiCamillo at an early age; when they’re a couple of years older, and come in looking for Tales of Desperaux, I remind them that this is the same author they’ve been reading since they picked up Mercy Watson, and that smile, that book hug, it makes every day I’m there fantastic. Yeah, I’m rhapsodizing again; forgive me. It’s been going on three months since I’ve been around my Corona Kids and I’m missing them, big time. Every book I read, I know just the kid I want to tell about it. This is hard, folks. Don’t think for a second it isn’t.

Okay. So, let’s talk the newest book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. Stella Endicott loves school and loves her teacher, Miss Liliana. She’s so excited to work on her assignment, to write a poem, because she knows just who she’s going to write about: Mercy Watson, the pig who lives next door and relaxes on a couch! She creates a lovely poem, but class know-it-all Horace Broom insists that she’s lying: wizards don’t play accordions, and pigs don’t live in houses! Annoyed not only by Horace’s lack of imagination, but the fact that he called her a liar, Stella shouts back at him, and the two are sent to the principal’s office, which leads to an adventure where the two will learn to see things from the other’s point of view.

The Deckawoo Drive books just make me happy. They’re funny, upbeat, and always have a good message to share. Here, we learn that it’s good to be literal¬†and metaphorical. It’s balance! Stella is smart and spirited, and Horace may have learned his lesson about offering uninvited criticism. Gouache artwork from Chris Van Dusen is automatically recognizable: kids will spot this book on a bookshelf (literal or virtual) a mile away. Mercy’s cameo is adorable – if you have the space in your reading area, stick some cushions or pillows on the floor with a stuffed pig and let your kids curl up with their Mercy to read, imagine, and create with.

Stella Endicott and the Anything-Is-Possible Poem has a starred review from Kirkus. Want to visit Deckawoo Drive and spend some time with Mercy? Visit the Mercy Watson website for information about the books, resources for parents and educators, join the fan club, and play some games.

Kate DiCamillo is the Newbery-Award winning author of Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Desperaux, and a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Chris Van Dusen is the illustrator of the Mercy Watson and Deckawoo Drive series, and an author-illustrator of books including The Circus Ship and Hattie & Hudson.


Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Mercy Watson gets a picture book prequel!

A Piglet Named Mercy, by Kate DiCamillo/Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, (Apr. 2019, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9780763677534

Ages 3-7

Mercy Watson, star of six chapter books, gets her start in this prequel picture book by her team, author Kate DiCamillo and illustrator Chris Van Dusen. Here, we meet the Watsons, an ordinary married couple that feels maybe a little too ordinary. But when a piglet gets bounced out of a truck and ends up on the Watsons’s doorstep, it’s love at first sight. The neighbor, Eugenia Lincoln, may not be thrilled, but her sister, Baby Lincoln, joins the love fest right away. Mr. and Mrs. Watson are over the moon with their new baby, swaddling her in a blanket and giving her a bottle of milk. Baby Lincoln even names her, calling her a mercy, and the name sticks. You don’t need to be familiar with the chapter book series in order to love A Piglet Named Mercy, and it will serve as a nice lead-in to the series, allowing young children to grow up with Mercy. The artwork is bright and cheerful, with a retro twist; Mrs. Watson rocks an apron and headband, and vaccums and sweeps the porch while Mr. Watson trims the hedges, mows the lawn, and washes the car; they have apple cheeks and big smiles. Eugenia and Baby Lincoln have old-school updos and sweaters with long skirts; for someone who’s a conformist, Eugenia is rocking some fabulous blue hair.

A Piglet Named Mercy is sweet reading – a nice adoption story, too – and will bring in new Mercy fans while giving the existing fans a new story to enjoy.