Would you giggle a little if your kids routinely said, "I want my toast with a great deal of butter on it?" Well, I do. I don't say that phrase, and don't know anyone else who often does, besides Kate DeCamillo in this series of early chapter books.
Mercy is funny pig whose favorite thing to eat is--what else-- but toast, with a great deal of butter on it. She is dearly loved by her human family, the Watson's, and strongly disliked by her neighbor. She is spoiled and manages to get into lots of trouble, but still, she is a lovable pig. Every page in these books has an illustration as well as fairly large words. The stories are pretty simple, but fortunately the vocabulary isn't. These books make everyone in my family laugh together. Chris Van Dusen, who also created If I Built a Car, does the fantastic and funny illustrations for these books. They are right on the mark for the story, and are humorous themselves. The books are great early chapter book read-alouds. Although my family hasn't tested them yet for independent reading, I suspect they would be good first chapter books as well.
When my kids start talking about toast with a great deal of butter, I secretly applaud inside. I know reading aloud is doing just what I hope it will. Besides inviting my kids to find the joy in reading, and sharing knowledge about the world that we may not otherwise get around to learning about, I know they are learning a lot about vocabulary and language. That makes me happy. And Mercy Watson makes me laugh.