What do you get when you take gorgeous dress up clothes and glamorous jewels, add in some fabulous French flair, and a good dose of imagination alongside everyday events? Why, Fancy Nancy, of course!
Have you had the opportunity to say ‘Bojour!’ to Nancy through her book series? No? You’ve never met? Well then, may I have the honor of introducing you?
Imagination is Everything
You see, Nancy is a young girl with a big imagination. There is something about big imaginations that endears readers to characters, that draws you in and creates a love for the character. They have this way of working their way into your heart and making themselves unforgettable.
Don’t believe me? Well, what springs to your mind when I say Anne of Green Gables? Sarah from ‘A Little Princess’? Pollyanna? These young girls had big imaginations and were not afraid to use them. As a result, they imprint themselves indelibly on the minds and the hearts of everyone who takes the time to get to know them through the pages of their books.
Fancy Nancy is a young girl who has risen to take her rightful place in the halls of imagination alongside these wonderful characters. Nancy has a knack for taking something simple and, with the help of some extravagant dress up clothes, some sparkling personality, and a dose of imagination, elevates it into something divine.
Take, for example, a tea party. A fun event for little girls, to be sure, but Nancy has this way of creating an entire extravaganza around the event. First there needs to be the preparation of the party itself, the space for the party and all the food that will be served. Then all the people coming – dolls, stuffed animals, and pets included – need to dress for the occasion with beautiful dresses and jewelry or dapper outfits and top hats. Then the party itself can happen, complete with lots of ‘my dear’s’ and formalities and French phrases thrown in.
Oh la la! Such a tea party! You see, Nancy is a firm believer that French is the fanciest language in the world and so she will incorporate French words into most everything that she says. Because you have to be fancy! Nancy is so taken with being fancy that she encourages everyone around her to be fancy with her. But Nancy doesn’t simply tell people to be fancy, she takes the time to teach them how to be fancy with flair and fashion.
Nancy loves to draw, to read, to create things. She loves to play and use her imagination. To sit and have a conversation with her best friend, Bree, who is the same age or with adults. She plays with her dog and with her little sister. Nancy enjoys creating and enhancing all her play with imagination. And that is one of the most endearing things about Nancy: She plays! She is given the space and the freedom to be creative (within reason), showing that all children can be extremely creative if they have the room to play and create and imagine.
There books play to your imagination. They show that with imagination, the possibilities are endless! Jane O’Connor showcases Nancy’s imagination and in doing so, ignites the creativity and imagination in those who read her stories.
Simply a Real Girl with Really Good Role Models
Yet, there is something about Fancy Nancy that carves out her own space among such great literary works as Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna. It is her simplicity. Her innocence. Her ability to take everyday events and turn them into a grand affair that showcases her imagination. Through it all, there is a real-ness to Nancy. You could easily see your daughter stepping into Nancy’s shoes and creating a tea party or aspiring to be an artist just like Nancy.
Nancy is an exuberant girl who loves live and lives it with flair, but she is not immune from making mistakes. Sometimes she makes a big mess of things. Sometimes she does or says something that isn’t right. Sometimes she wonders if she is enough. Sometimes she is scared to try something new, wondering if she can actually do what she hopes to do. Sometimes she has a bad attitude.
But Jane O’Connor doesn’t leave you wondering what happens with Nancy. She brings each story around and you as the reader have the opportunity to walk with Nancy through the mess that she made of things. You have the opportunity to see how she sets things right and how there is forgiveness and hugs when you mess up. How when you try something new, you just might be surprised at what you can do.
O’Connor has surrounded Nancy with good, solid role models to help guide her. Parents that will let her be silly and extravagant in her dress-up clothes. Parents who will allow her to build a tent in the house with bedsheets. Friends who will willingly call an umbrella a ‘parasol’ or a hat a ‘beret’ just because it’s fancy. Teachers who feed her imagination and encourage her to be who she is. To be true to herself.
They guide her without stifling her. They allow her to explore and to create and to be a kid. That, right there is one of the best things about the Fancy Nancy books. Nancy is a real kid in every sense of the word. She is totally into fun, but she is learning and growing every step of the way.
Teaching Moments Abound and are not Abandoned
Fancy Nancy will never let you forget that she has style and flair! She brings that energy and fashion to everything that she does. Whether she is aspiring to be an artist, yearning to write poetry, turning her clubhouse into a day spa or a ‘Palace of Poetry’ or dressing up in dazzling jewels or extravagant boas and gorgeous outfits there is always a lesson to be learned.
Jane O’Connor weaves real teaching moments into Nancy’s story that allows her readers to come along and learn as well. She touches on famous painters and some of the typical things that they painted, the rules for a tea party, etiquette, what a poem is, and themes like honoring your parents and treating your siblings with love and compassion.
Throughout her stories, Nancy deals with the emotions of being a young girl. Take the book, ‘Fancy Nancy, Poet Extraordinaire!’ for example. Nancy is given the assignment to write a poem by her teacher. So, she does everything that she thinks will allow her to write the poem – creating an inspiring space, getting paper and a fancy pen to write with, looking for inspiration around her, and yet nothing comes. She sees all of her classmates writing different styles of poems and she cheers them on as they each finish their poem, and yet she is feeling very blue and sad because she cannot seem to write one single line of poetry. Jane O’Connor does not shy away from allowing you to see Nancy feeling glum. On the contrary, she explores it. She shows you what Nancy does (based on the excellent advise of her mom and her teacher) to work through the glum feeling, to keep pressing on and not give up. Nancy pushes into understanding poems more, asking questions of her teacher to better understand what she needs to do. In the end, Nancy is able to write a stelar poem that was inspired by one of the adult role models that have positively impacted her life.
The things that strikes me the most about this story is not that Nancy wrote a poem, but that she becomes a model of persisting. Of not giving up. Of pushing in and pushing through until that breakthrough happens. What’s more, the people that she turns to are wonderful role models. She turns to her parents, she turns to her teacher, she turns to her best friend, and she turns to a neighbor who has become a close family friend. Nancy not only models persistence, realness, and how to work through emotions in a healthy way, she also models turning to the right role models for help when she needs it.
Expanding Your World of Words
Extravagant. Dapper. Zany. Parasol. Stupendous. Dazzling. Fiasco. Excursion. Tiara. Wardrobe.
Are these words that you would typically expect to come out of a young girl? No? Well, allow Nancy to surprise you, then! To go along with all her fanciness and love of all things French (she even named her dog Frenchy!), Nancy love to explore fancy words.
O’Connor has a unique talent for introducing fun and fabulous words with flair to each of her readers, without them even realizing that their vocabulary is expanding by leaps and bounds. The way that Nancy explains each word after the fact is so simple, so true to her character that the reader is left thinking “Of course she would explain things! That’s what Nancy does!” You are never left with the feeling that Nancy is talking down to you.
While I am doodling with my new markers, inspiration strikes. That means I get a great idea.Fancy Nancy, Aspiring Artist
We sit at a big table loaded with delicacies. (That’s fancy for fancy food.)Fancy Nancy, Fanciest Doll in the Universe
My jewelry boxes are overflowing! (That’s a fancy way of saying I can’t shut them.)Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Jewels
A Young Girl with a Big Heart
More than anything, Fancy Nancy has won the hearts of her readers. She has a beautiful way of endearing herself to all who read her, no matter their age. But don’t take my word for it, hear it directly from them:
I love her. And she’s so nice. I love when my big sister reads her books to me. I like it when she dresses up in fun clothes.Harmony, age 5
Fancy Nancy is a young and pretty girl. I like how she uses a parasol – it is a big paper umbrella that protects you from the sun and I like how it’s pretty. I like learning different French words as I read the books. Fancy Nancy has more accessories than anyone in the entire world. She’s one of my favorite reading books because she’s fun.Violet, age 9
If you have never experienced firsthand the joy, the silliness, the flair and fabulousness of Fancy Nancy, why delay one moment longer? Any young girl in your life will take great delight in reading these wonderful stories with you!
- Roald Dahl: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
- Animal Adventures Around the World with Bindi’s Wildlife Adventures
- The Power to Change Displayed in A Garden
- The Power of True Friendship on Display in a Barnyard: Charlotte’s Web
- Anne of Green Gables’ Imagination and Inspiration for Life
**The children quoted in this post all chose a favorite book character to identify them. Their ages remain the same.
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.