Fancy Nancy

I have a mixed reaction to Fancy Nancy. What bothers me is obvious– she’s fancy. On the covers, Nancy is always wearing a tiara, high heels or ballet slippers with lacey socks, several beaded necklaces, and multi-colored bows in her hair. The book jackets actually sparkle, showing Nancy surrounded by butterflies or poodles, and the titles, always in pink, purple, or rainbow lettering include: Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy, Fancy Nancy, Bonjour Butterfly etc. The covers make this series look like books in drag; they are so crazy girlie in their appearance that if a boy were to venture to pick one up, I could imagine a parent snatching it away in fear, the way I’ve seen them do when their sons reach out to push toy strollers or snap barettes in their hair.

That said, Jane O’Connor, the author, seems to be depicting the princess marketing machine with some irony. In every book, Nancy tries desperately to transform her family into a fancier one. Her mom, dad, and little sister want to appease her, but never pull off the look or lifestyle Nancy is going for: the limo remains the family car, the three star retaurant is actually a diner, Nancy’s fancy shoes make her trip and fall while everyone is watching her.

And here’s the thing about Nancy– I have to agree with some of her choices to enhance her world and make it fancier: words do often sound better in French, a ham sandwich becomes a treat when it comes with a frilly toothpick; sprinkles turn a cup of ice cream into edible art, and “gold” is more poetic than “yellow” (reminding me when I first moved to California, I complained everything looked so brown, and a native corrected me: “We call it golden.”) Nancy’s quest for fanciness illustrates the special skills children have to see beauty and find excitement in the everyday things that grown ups too often experience as  mundane.   ***GG/S*** Read and engage

6 thoughts on “Fancy Nancy

  1. Pingback: Most annoying girl characters in books « ReelGirl

  2. Nancy has really enlightened me in regards to my mother and daughter. I used to have a problem with how Nancy and all the other frilly-make-pretty idols perpetuate the princessy way, but then I realized some girls just ARE that way and some girls just AREN’T even with the frilliness all around. Nancy doesn’t seem to be beautifying everything and herself under pressure or from a point of criticism, but from her own desires and pursuit of happiness. My mother used to try to fancy me up (still does), my daughter started almost immediately as soon as she was able to wrap a scarf around herself and literally prance. I can only try to keep her happy with herself and others as themselves. We’ll see..

    Good on you, Margot for keeping us thinking!

  3. I agree with the original response. I like your site a lot – including the photo! I hope that you keep at it.

    With a friend I write a blog for teachers using children’s literature as a medium to discuss what is happening in the classroom and how the books’ lessons are meaningful no matter our age.

    Fancy Nancy has personal significance to me. Reading it, I felt justified in my love affair with “fancy” things: cloth napkins, rainbow sprinkles and a colorful pair of sneakers. Something small and seemingly inconsequential can brighten your day if you let it.

    Like you mention at the end of your post, it is more than that though. Nancy is expressing a value and that serves as a helpful reminder to adults. Embrace who you are and others will too.

  4. In one of my posts, I wrote about how I find the time. First, I write very fast (as typos may reaveal), I am thinking about his stuff all the time, so when I get 3 minutes, I write it down. (2) I usually write while my kids are watching a movie or I’m feeding the baby or multi-tasking in some way.

    I would like to fimd the time to really get to know the blogosphere and see what other people are writing about but I don’t know how to yet— maybe I’ll get up earlier.

    Finally– I think this stuff is really important. It may be kids books, but these are the stories that shape psyches, inspire actions, and are repeated our whole live. I don’t see it as trivial at all.

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