Fancy Nancy: An Author Reading I Couldn’t Miss

When I learned Jane O’Connor, author of the Fancy Nancy picture books, planned a book reading at our local bookstore, I was ecstatic, elated, overjoyed. For those of you not familiar with her books, that’s a fancy way of saying I was pretty excited and you can bet I planned to be there.

But my daughter had a soccer game at the same time and she didn’t want to miss it. Her grandfather could see her play for once. That was special. I was heartbroken, deflated, forlorn. Pretty much, I was bummed.

I have loved Fancy Nancy since the first time I read it to her, choking over the last lines about love and its simplicity between mother and child. And one hundred times later, I still do.

Of all of the books that my daughter will one day outgrow, none of the Fancy Nancy picture books will ever be parted with. Tucked within the pages lay too many memories of our heads on her pillow, laughing at Nancy’s dramatics, aching over her schoolgirl troubles, and relating all too well to a little girl who in so many ways is just like the little girl lying beside me and also the little girl I once was.

I love the books because my daughter can play in pink cowboy boots and a tutu while hunting for bugs or riding her bike. She loves dress-up as much as she loves Star Wars. Her scraped knees and purple bruises accent her accessories: wrists full of mismatched bracelets, striped leg warmers, and don’t forget those high-heel shoes.

So when the opportunity came to hear the author of these books speak, I was tickled pink. Her writing makes me laugh, smile, and choke back tears. And it will always make me think of my daughter and some quiet times together.

When Jane O’Connor revealed who inspired the character of Fancy Nancy, I had a feeling I knew. Not her kids, she had sons. Not her grandchildren, she doesn’t have any yet. It was her. She showed a picture of a daintily dressed young Jane with a bandage on her knee and said her legs always displayed cuts and bruises. It’s no wonder she knows Fancy Nancy so well.

Jane O'Connor with a childhood photo

Jane O’Connor displays a childhood photo, her inspiration for Fancy Nancy.

I stood alone in a packed crowd and watched with all the giddy admiration of a starry-eyed six-year-old. I waited patiently in line for an hour for Jane O’Connor to sign my daughter’s books, which she quickly signed in bright pink marker.

When my daughter said she was going to her soccer game, it was OK. I knew seeing Jane O’Connor’s book reading meant more to me. For my six-year-old, it didn’t matter. Mom brings the books to life at night.

For me, Jane O’Connor is the woman responsible. She brings to life the memories, the connection between character, my little girl, and my own childhood.

To her I say thank you. And there just isn’t a better way to say that.

My 30 seconds with Jane O’Connor. The photographer really could have waited for her to look up. But there we are!

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Fancy Nancy: An Author Reading I Couldn’t Miss

  1. Aw! So glad you got to have that experience…and a lovely picture with the author to boot. I must admit that I have not a single Fancy Nancy book on our shelves with two girls at home. And both of them strongly resemble the character (rough and tumble, high heels and bling). We may just have to remedy that.

    • They are truly our favorites. And the new one about the mermaid ballet is really funny. That’s what Jane O’Connor read this weekend. We don’t have that one. Yet. I liked picture books before I had kids though. They’re both outgrowing them. I’m not.

      • Angie’s an avid reader of chapter books (Buddy Files is her current love). Ginny still chooses picture books over all others, so I will indulge myself in them just a little bit longer!! Picture books are awesome and speak volumes of words through their illustrations.

        My favorites (for all four of my kids)? “Love You Forever” and “I Love You, Stinky Face.”

  2. Congrats! I am glad you didn’t miss the opportunity!

    • Thanks! It was great fun. And my daughter was happy to have her books signed. We read them all together yesterday, and yes, I still choked on that last part again. Gets me every time.

  3. My favorite children’s book has always been Where The Wild Things Are. My parents don’t even remember buying the book for me more less, its been so long, but I do. It’s amazing what one little book, or heroine, can do.

    • That’s a great one too. I think a lot of kids can relate to that. I had a lot of those Little Golden Books as a kid. I love the picture books that are out today, and I don’t remember having anything like them. Maybe that’s why I like reading to my kids so much.

  4. What a beautiful post. I have never heard of the Fancy Nancy books but you can be sure I will check them out now! Sounds like a character I want my daughter to know!

  5. My twinsters and I love Fancy Nancy. Of course, they call her Dancy Nancy though. haha. I wish there were books like that when I was little, but I’m so glad they are out there for me to enjoy now!

  6. Karen Brudnak

    We were there too! Had to come late, Barry and Lauren were at Free Comic Book Day, but we got our tattered old book signed. 🙂

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