In keeping with my Kate DiCamillo theme this week, I want to review her Mercy Watson series. Kate DiCamillo, author of Newbery Honor Winner Because of Winn-Dixie, and Newbery Winner of The Tale of Despereaux also wrote this enchanting chapter book series for young readers ages 6-8. The second book of the series, Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was the winner of the 2007 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award.
I’m glad I waited until I had all six books to read at once. Although you don’t necessarily have to read them in order, I found it to be more fun to read like that because Kate DiCamillo builds on each character in each subsequent book. Of course there is Mercy Percy, the butter loving – adventure loving pig, and Mr. and Mrs. Watson who would do anything in the world for their darling, dear, porcine wonder. In the first book we are introduced to the Lincoln sisters, Eugenia and Baby, the Watson’s elderly yin and yang neighbors. Eugenia has an opinion on everything, and in her opinion pigs should not live in houses. She spends the next five books trying to convince everyone that her opinion is correct. And then there’s Baby, who secretly likes Mercy Watson even though she always agrees with her sister Eugenia… it’s just easier that way. Throughout the series we meet Ned and Lorenzo, the fire fighters who are called out for every crisis; Officer Tomilello who has the quirky habit of asking and answering his own questions out loud; Leroy Ninker, the little thief who really wants to be a cowboy and later becomes the reformed conession man at the drive-in theater who still really wants to be a cowboy; Frank and Stella, the neighborhood children who befriend Mercy; and Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet whose nose looks remarkably like a chicken’s beak.
Kate DiCamillo expertly weaves these characters in and out of the series always putting Mercy Watson’s love of butter at the center of her conflict and in every resolution. How could one not adore a character who unabashedly follows her dream into wacky wonky misadventures?
Leave it to Chris Van Dusen to paint the story pictures so vividly on each page. Each character’s personality and motivation is captured in their faces and their body language. Chris Van Dusen extraordinary illustrations will leave you begging for more. You might be interested in reading some of his other works as well. Look for the Mr. Magee series of early readers and several other titles including The Circus Ship which looks amazing and is on my reading list!
You can learn more about Kate DiCamillo here. http://www.katedicamillo.com/index.html
You can learn more about Chris Van Dusen here. http://www.chrisvandusen.com
I was browsing pinterest this afternoon, just following a whim, and found a treasure trove of children’s literature read by actors and actresses on You Tube from Storyline Online, a part of the the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. Before I knew it, I had spent over an hour listening to some of my favorite books being read by some superb people. You’ve got to hear Rainbow Fish read by Ernest Borgnine, Harry the Dirty Dog, read by animal lover Betty White, My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother read by one of my favorite redheads Melissa Gilbert, and Stellaluna, read by Pamela Reed. And I also must admit, there were several titles I had never heard of. My new favorite is To Be a Drum, read by James Earl Jones. Who could pass an opportunity to hear James Earl Jones read anything? Not me! I’m so glad I did. This is a fabulous book about slavery and freedom. Take a minute or two, or sixty, and browse this site for yourself. I’ll bet you find a new favorite too!
It’s not often that I enjoy a movie as much as I have enjoyed the book. The Book Thief is an exception. If you haven’t read the book yet, do so! If you haven’t seen the movie yet, do so!
Without giving away the whole book, or telling you more than you would see in any book review online, I will say that Markus Zusak tells a marvelous tale of a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Liesel’s story is told by the narrator, Death, who has encountered her on several occasions before he takes her. As a matter of fact Liesel steals her first book at her brother’s gravesite. She is forced to grow up and learn the meaning of life amid death.
Emily Watson plays Liesel magnificently! She is young, innocent, and beautiful. She steals books, learns to read, and shares stories orally. But more importantly, she lives, loves, and survives!
Both the book and the movie are a must. Treat yourself and someone you love to both experiences.
Writing is my Passion.
I will embrace it,
and grow with it.
I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions, they always seem so cliched. But that’s not to say that I don’t like to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next. A few weeks ago I was challenged to write a list of 31 accomplishments of last year. I was so excited about that because I had a wonderful year in 2013. I actually only wrote accomplishments since my retirement in May. And, guess what… I exceeded the 31 count in only the 7 months between June and December! I was psyched! And since I truly believe that the best is yet to come (yes, a cliche), I am super-psyched about 2014!
I have already lined up several workshops, groups, and writing activities for the new year. Here are my top five for January:
1. Rate Your Story
2. Start the Year Off Write
4. 12×12 Workshop
5. Writing for Children
In addition, I plan on entering three writing contests this month.
(Highlights, AKC Family Dog, and Rate Your Story).
Here’s a little cartoon I copied just for chuckles.
So, time to get busy… Like the poster says, “the best days of my life are all ahead”!