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Friday, June 22, 2012

Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet, written by Jane O;'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Harper, 2012. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Bree throws her arms around me. She is beaming. (That's smiling from ear to ear.) "I'm so happy for you," I say. Only I don't really mean it all. I liked it much better when neither of us got to be a mermaid. At home I stuff my beautiful costume in the back of my closet. My mermaid days are over!"

That little charmer Nancy is back, fully in charge of  'fancy', as she has been in each of the other books that feature her as the main character. This time she and her best friend Bree are beside themselves when their dance teacher announces a new performance of a ballet called Deep-Sea Dances!

Both are fully expecting to be chosen to portray mermaids. After all, they have been using Jojo's backyard pool to practice their moves for years! They are dance experts. They are sorely disappointed when the announcements are made. Nancy will be a tree and Bree an oyster. Nancy's father encourages optimism. Nancy is not easy to convince:

"My dad acts like this is so thrilling.
"Dad, you don't understand. My costume will be BROWN."
I explain.
"There is no way to look fancy in brown."

Well, they will be the best they can be. Nancy cannot contain her enthusiasm when she learns that she is not just any old tree; she is a weeping willow. What could be more graceful and elegant than that? She practices at every possible moment, always maintaining a sad face in keeping with the weeping part.

A real blow comes when one of the mermaid ballerinas sprains her ankle, and cannot go on. Bree is chosen to take her place and Savanah will be the oyster. Nancy learns a lesson in friendship and humility. She then takes her own role seriously and does her level best to be the tree she was meant to be.

Just as Jane O'Connor remains true to the lovely little girl we have come to love, Robin Preiss Glasser keeps us entertained and on the lookout for each bit of fancy she portrays in her lovely, glitzy pen and ink artwork. I love carefully considering each illustration to be sure that I have seen everything she includes on her detailed pages. Young fans will love the sparkling embossed is a sure invitation to dive in and see what Fancy Nancy is up to in this new adventure.

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