Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor

Today’s children storybook summary is

Fancy Nancy

By Jane O’Connor

Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor


Plot: Nancy has always been fancy, but now she tries to teach her parents and siblings the art.

(This is the first in a series of 80 titles featuring Fancy Nancy.)


We don’t know how old Nancy is(maybe 5 or 6?), but she is very fancy for her age. How do we know? Let’s take a look in her room. The room décor is astonishing: paintings and posters on the walls, flowers, garlands, mirrors, feathers, and artwork everywhere. Hats and purses hang on hooks, and laced shoes are peaking from under the bed.

Nancy herself wears a tutu with ballet shoes, a ribbon around her waist, and plenty of hairpins, bracelets, and earrings. She likes the fancy stuff and even speaks fancier than anyone she knows, like fuchsia instead of purple – her favorite color, or plume instead of feather.

Too bad nobody in her family is fancy. Worse, her little sister seems upset every time Nancy tries to dress her up.

One day, Nancy, inspired by a fancy poster for Rumba classes she saw in a grocery store, decides to give her family a lesson in fanciness. She put a poster of her own on the fridge door, advertising her class. Soon, her mom, dad, and little sister sign up.

Nancy gathers some “plain” items pairing them with a fancier replacement for anyone to see the difference. For example, a baseball hat is plain, but a wide brim hat decorated with ribbons, fruits, and a bird is fancy. A plain brown shoe can be fancier with a pom-pom and some laces.

After the class, she dresses them all up, ready for a show. They decide to dine out at King’s Crown. Being all so fancy dressed, they attract the glare of the passers-by and other people in the restaurant. They also use French words in their conversation, eat with their pinky up, and call each other “darling.”

Nancy is very proud of her work, and everything is fancy until an unfortunate moment. Rushing to bring their parfaits (French for sundaes) to the table, Nancy trips on her fancy shoelaces and falls. The ice cream and sauce spread on the floor, on her fancy dress and hair. Worse, everybody in the dining room gasps. Embarrassed, Nancy asks to go home. She doesn’t feel fancy anymore. But not for long.

After a warm bath, Nancy puts on her dressing gown (fancy, for bathrobe) and thanks her family for standing by her fanciness. She won’t change just because of a minor incident, but she may be more careful.


Fancy Nancy, her parents, her little sister

Talking points/ Questions to ask:

  1. Why does Nancy wants to teach a lesson in being fancy? Possible answers: to find others like her, to belong to a group,or so she won’t be alone.
  1. How does the fall in the restaurant affects Nancy? Is she giving up her fanciness? What can she do to prevent such incidents?


Robin Preiss Glasser has created a wonderful character. The way the illustrator depicts Fancy Nancy,  the clothing, the pose, and the attitudes create a charming and complex personality. The other characters and their environment entirely differ from Nancy’s world, making her unique. The bountiful details and the rainbow of colors, the exaggerated contrast between plain and fancy, and the cheerful and sophisticated illustration bring a lightness to the page, making reading this book a complete joy.

Recommended Age: 4 to 7 years old

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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