Spell-Bound: Fancy Nancy: Splendid Speller by Jane O'Connor
I DON'T MEAN TO BRAG, BUT I AM A SPLENDID SPELLER.
Nancy Clancy is never one to hide her candle under a bushel. She is convinced that her spelling is faultless.
Oh, she pays her dues. Nancy studies her weekly word lists and practices spelling with her little sister and her best friend Bree, also a splendid speller. After all, she's even a bilingual speller!
I CAN EVEN SPELL IN FRENCH. C-H-I-E-N MEANS "DOG."
That week Nancy breezes through her spelling words, with the exception of just one: GIGGLE. For some reason, it's hard for Nancy to remember whether it G-I-G-G-L-E or G-I-G-L-E.
And then come test day. The pressure is on. Nancy feels her status as splendid speller is on the line. She does fine until... Ms. Glass comes to that word!
Nancy writes it down carefully: G-I-G-L-E. It doesn't look quite right. Doesn't that word have two Gs in the middle? It's almost time for the next word and Nancy is frozen with indecision.
And then she steals a peek at Bree's paper. She's written G-I-G-G-L-E. Nancy's pencil is poised to add the extra G to her own paper. But should she? Isn't that wicked cheating?
The newest I-Can-Read Fancy Nancy book, Fancy Nancy: Splendid Speller (I Can Read Book 1) (Harper, 2011) takes our posh protagonist into the moral arena as she struggles with her conscience. Even though she chooses NOT to copy Bree's correct spelling onto her paper, she still feels worried. Is she a "wicked cheater?" Not only does her spelling test have that ugly red X by the missed word, but she still feels somehow guilty. As always, Ms. Glass intuits Nancy's anxiety and has just the right words of counsel for her intense little scholar.
Jane O'Connor's inexpensive little books in Harper's venerable and much-lauded I-Can-Read series offer more than humdrum practice with a controlled vocabulary for early readers. They are powerful vocabulary builders with engaging story lines that deal with the dilemmas of primary age students, here with the serious subject of intellectual honesty. Ted Enik has become a masterful imitator of Robin Preiss Glasser, the artist who created the image of Nancy & Company in the full-sized picture book series, and his evocative illustrations add a great deal to the appeal of O'Connor's easy reader series.
She may not get a perfect score in spelling, but with her usual appendix of activities with "Nancy's Special Words," in Fancy Nancy: Splendid Speller (I Can Read Book 1) Nancy Clancy gets an A+ in reading.