The arrival of a box of new Fancy Nancy books generated considerable excitement in my house this week. My four-year-old daughter actually delayed her departure for her first-ever soccer practice (something that she was VERY excited about) to finish reading Fancy Nancy: Sand Castles and Sand Palaces.
Later, before she would go to sleep, we had to read the new picture book Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century AND all six titles in Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fall Storybook Collection, as well as the newest copy of Fancy Nancy and the Fall Foliage (which we already had a copy of). The only title that we deferred reading for was Nancy Clancy: Secret of the Silver Key, which was dismissed, rightly, as "too old" (but which I have saved for later).
I did not object. My daughter's preferred format for books these days is paperback. You know the sort of books I'm talking about: Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, and various TV-spinoff books in thin, square packages. She especially likes it when there are stickers included in the books. But she'll read them anyway, without the stickers.Those that have pictures of other books from the series on the back cover are particular favorites - she is constantly bringing those to me to request additional titles. (Happily, these books only cost $3-$5 each, so I sometimes use them as rewards for aspirational behaviors). Paperback early readers are also favorites.
As a parent, I have come to appreciate these paperbacks. They are lightweight, and it's easy to take them on trips or in the car. Because they are inexpensive, I don't worry about them being damaged. And they fit quite nicely in my new breakfast table toast rack / book rack. However, I do (silently) lament the fact that by focusing on these titles, my daughter is missing out on the richer vocabulary of more traditional picture books. And this is why the arrival of new Fancy Nancy books brings joy to me, as well as to my daughter. Because the Fancy Nancy books are chock-full of rich vocabulary words, all defined in the text.
My daughter knows what "foliage" is because of Nancy. She knows what a "banquet" is, and what "translucent" means. She has learned these words painlessly, because Nancy uses them. And because Nancy is "fancy", delighting in swirling tutus, glittery Thanksgiving turkeys, and accessories of all colors, Nancy feels like a friend, not a teacher. The books are not didactic, though there may be a lesson or two to be absorbed here or there, and they often make my daughter giggle.
I should also add that although the new paperbacks are destined to be read more in the short-term (taken on trips, etc.), the hardcover of Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fall Storybook Collection is a particular delight. This is a compendium of six previously-published stories, at least one of which we already have. But the table of contents, from which one can pick which story to read first, makes my daughter feel grown-up. She refers to the stories as "chapters", and feel that she is reading a big girl chapter book. For those titles that don't fit into the format of this square book, there are wide patterned borders on each page, with sketches of leaves, and a foliage-friendly palette.
A celebration of words, in a four-year-old-girl-friendly package, that's what the Fancy Nancy books are to me. To my daughter, they are just fun. And that's exactly what I'm looking for.
© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).