Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boutique Birthday: Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique by Jane O'Connor

It is my sister's birthday on Saturday, so we are going on a shopping spree. That means we're buying balloons, napkins, party plates, cups--a ton of stuff.

My sister and Freddy are only interested in pirates, pirates, pirates... They're completely obsessed.

When she's not looking, I get my sister the perfect present--a black eye patch.

After they're done at Party Time, Mom, with sister Jo-Jo and Freddy still wearing their pirate hats, treats Nancy to a quick stop at Belle's Fabulous Fashion Boutique. On the sale table Nancy spots a fancy fan she's long had a yen for, but, alas, she's blown most of her money on her sister's gift. Then she has one of her brilliant (that's fancy for supersmart) ideas:

I will open my own fabulous fashion boutique and sell some of my old gowns and accessories. If I make enough money, that lace fan will be mine.

Back home, the whole family, even Jo-Jo and Bree's little brother Freddy, pitch in to create an al fresco boutique a la Belle's with "Bargains Galore," and as Frenchy's sign proclaims, "Dogs Welcome!" Nancy makes her first sale to twins Rhonda and Wanda. Wanda's a bit short on funds to pay for a glamorous necklace with genuine fake diamonds, but promises to return with her allowance money on the next day to pay for it. But there's a problem. Nancy's little sister, heretofore glamour proof, suddenly has to have it. But a deal is a deal, and Nancy has to say no to Jo-Jo. She tries appealing to her sister's fashion sense:

"Pirates don't wear rhinestone necklaces."

But her little sister is disconsolate. Nancy somehow feels bad for her sister. After all, it is her birthday. At last, Nancy gathers up her entrepreneurial earnings and treks over to persuade (that's fancy for getting somebody to do what you want) Wanda to accept a refund on the necklace. But Wanda takes a markup on the merchandise and drives a hard bargain, and Nancy is left with only pocket change, not enough to buy that lovely lace fan.

Still, Jo-Jo is thrilled with her eye patch and the sparkly necklace and wears both with her party pirate attire. Nancy bounces back with her usual elan, and when rain spoils the outdoor pirate treasure hunt, she comes through with an alternate activity--a dress-up fashion show for the little kids, using her leftover merchandise, with Nancy herself doing the fashion commentary and teaching them runway technique balancing bananas on their heads. The party is saved, and when it's time to blow out the four candles on the treasure chest cake, Nancy leans back against her dad with a feeling that she's done the right thing.

"You are a wonderful big sister," my dad whispers to me. I feel so happy, almost like it's my birthday too.

Jane O'Connor's just published Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique (Harper, 2010) shows our tutu-togged heroine in action. Nancy may be a first-class fashionista, but even better than her fashion sense is her ability to improvise her way through life's little fiascoes with a warm heart and inventive head. Robin Preiss Glasser's illustrations only grow more artful at portraying personality and emotion in her subjects' posture and expressions, and the deft details in her illustrations continue to give these picture books plenty of pizazz.

Big sister Fancy Nancy once again proves that she's the gal with the right stuff--and not just in her closet!

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