'Fancy Nancy' fun in New Canaan
Published 11:42 am, Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Dressed in their finest attire -- white gloves, colorful beads, pink boas and sparkly, jeweled tiaras perched upon their heads --125 youngsters turned out for a special `soiree' with Jane O'Connor, author of the popular "Fancy Nancy" book series on Saturday. New Canaan Public Library hosted the fun-filled afternoon that included a book signing, tea party, goodie bag giveaways and a reading of O'Connor's recent release "Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique."
Catherine Burges, 7, was dressed in head to toe in elegant attire. Her mother, whose name happens to be Nancy also donned a fur stole around her neck. They said that they're both fans of the book series. In fact, Burges recently celebrated her birthday with a tea party. "We might always celebrate my birthday this way," shesaid. "We had so much fun. We like to have tea and cookies after we read the books together."
Lydon Cooney, 8, also celebrated her birthday with a "Fancy Nancy" tea party, said Kathleen Cooney, her grandmother. Cooney, of New Haven, brought her two grandchildren, Lydon and sister Keira, 7, to the book signing because they regularly read all of the "Fancy Nancy" books together.
Cooney said all of Lydon's guests arrived at her birthday party dressed in boas and tiaras. "We ate parfaits and read one of the Fancy Nancy stories," Lydon said. "It was so much fun!"
Both girls expressed an appreciation for the way O'Connor uses `fancy' French words in her writing and then explains what they mean in simpler terms.
Reading from her latest publication, with illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser displayed on a large screen in front of the room, O'Connor asked the young people to repeat the word `Au Revoir,' and explained that this word meant `Goodbye' in French.
"Can you all say that?" she asked the captivated audience. "And, when you want to be really fancy, you can say, `Au Revoir, darling.'"
O'Connor admitted she studied French "for a million years."
Through O'Connor's writing, children also expand their English vocabulary because the text will frequently explain what a word means. "She will say `refreshment -- that's a fancy word for drinks and snacks," Keira said.
She also liked learning the word `accessories' and noted that "this is a fancy word for gadgets they wear."
Emily Stevens, 5, and Lauren Morfeld, 5, traveled with their mothers from their homes in Stamford to meet the Fancy Nancy author. The two girls, who stated they've been "good friends" since they met in preschool, both agreed that they enjoyed how the protagonist dresses up "all fancy."
O'Connor's premise for the "Fancy Nancy" series came out of her own childhood experience of growing up with a mother who was not in any way flamboyant.
"She was very understated, which I thought was plain," O'Connor said. "However, when my aunts came to visit us when I was little, I used to put on a tutu and a cape and my mother's high heels."
One day, while she was making dinner for her family in her West Side apartment in New York City, the name Fancy Nancy came to her, O'Connor added.
And, although she completed the book in 2002, it wasn't published until 2005 because her editor, Mararet Anastas, wanted to wait until illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser was available. A former professional ballerina, Glasser has illustrated several children's picture books. O'Connor had written 25 books -- including the popular "Nina, Nina, Ballerina" stories, before creating "Fancy Nancy."
Along with the books, there are now several marketing tie-ins, such as "Fancy Nancy" dolls, tea party accessories, Nintendo DS games and art kits available for purchase. The Friends of the Library provided giveaway bags filled with a pink change purse, a pink gingerbread cookie in the shape of a purse and a "Fancy Nancy" necklace. Cookies, juice and coffee were also available.
New Canaan's Elm Street Bookstore displayed an assortment of O'Connor's books which were available for purchase.
The New Canaan Library's Children's Department had several coloring and activity sheets on hand for the youngsters to work on while they waited in line to get their book signed.
As she signed hundreds of hardcover books, O'Connor warmly greeted each local fan and readily answered questions. Jordan Powell, 6, said her favorite part of the latest story was when Nancy practices her posture by balancing a banana on her head. "It was so funny," she said.