Aspiring Astronomists: Fancy Nancy Stellar Stargazer by Jane O'Connor
GREETINGS, FELLOW EARTHLINGS! (THAT'S FANCY FOR "HI, EVERYBODY, ON YOUR GOOD PLANET EARTH!)
TONIGHT, FOR THE THE VERY FIRST TIME, I GET TO SLEEP OUTSIDE "UNDER THE STARS."
KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED IT'S A CLEAR NIGHT!
The rest of Nancy Clancy's family may be a bunch of plain Janes, couture-wise, but her parents surely know how to blend quality family time with a learning experience for their two daughters They help Nancy and little sister JoJo set up a stylish tent (titled The Starlight Motel) and start the fun off with a twilight picnic.
WE ARE EATING AL FRESCO (THAT'S FANCY FOR OUTSIDE) AND WAITING FOR THE SKY TO GROW DARK!
Preschooler JoJo keeps asking where the stars are, giving the knowledgeable Nancy a chance to explain that the stars are always "out," just invisible in the daylight because Earth's own star, the sun, is so bright in the sky. "Can we wish on the sun?" the logical Jojo then asks, and Nancy assents, leading her in a round of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,.." as Nancy crosses her fingers and wishes to see something special in the heavens. Then, as the moon begins to appear in the darkening sky, Nancy gets to show off again by explaining that the moon is not a star; it's just a big round rock that shines with Earth's reflected sunlight and goes through its phases, from crescent to full, as it revolves around Earth.
While their parents clear away the picnic, Nancy and JoJo pretend to be astronauts, clad in spacesuits constructed of snorkels and a colander for JoJo and bike helmet for Nancy. They explore their backyard moonscape,on their lunar rover trike and enjoy a lunar sundae made with "real astronaut" ice cream from Nancy's field trip to the planetarium.
Finally it's re-entry to earth's atmosphere, just in time to star-gaze through Nancy's telescope at the stars, which Dad points out, can be white, red, blue, or yellow, and to try to spot some constellations with the help of Nancy's library book, Star Stories. Dad locates Orion (Oh-ry-un) the Hunter, and Nancy tells him a star story about a beautiful princess whose tiara becomes a constellation. But then, Nancy notices that it's getting hard to see the stars.
Mais non! Clouds are rolling in, and the wind is rising! Nancy knows from her first failed field trip to the planetarium that clouds and rain can cut a stargazing session short.
But Dad has tucked their sleeping bags snugly inside the tent, and even a gentle rainstorm can't shut down the sleepover in Jane O'Connor's latest full-dress picture book, Fancy Nancy: Stellar Stargazer! (Harper, 2011). O'Connor deserves her best-selling status, working family fun, vocabulary-building, and incidental learning into the latest entry in her Fancy Nancy series. Strategically placed text boxes (Stellar Facts) add additional information to the story and as always, there is an appended glossary of Nancy's Fancy Words introduced in the text. As ever, Robin Preiss Glasser's pastel watercolored illustrations, with her artful portrayals of Nancy and JoJo's body language, make this one a charmer. Pair it with their earlier easy reader, Fancy Nancy Sees Stars (I Can Read Book 1) for a stellar learning liftoff into the night skies.
And after the rain, as Earth's own star begins to rise in the east, there's a happy last-page surprise.
DAD WAKES ME UP, SHOUTING, "QUICK! COME QUICK!"
OOH LA LA! MY WISH CAME TRUE. SOMETHING SPECIAL IS IN THE SKY.
I THINK RAINBOWS ARE JUST AS SPECIAL AS STARS, DON'T YOU?