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