Handoff: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl by Jane O'Connor
THIS FRIDAY IS FIELD DAY.
ALMOST EVERYONE IS EXCITED, BUT ONE PERSON IS DREADING IT.
THAT ONE PERSON IS ME.
Nancy Clancy is usually an enthusiastic cheerleader for every activity in Mrs. Glass's class. but this week she's not thinking of how to accessorize her brand-new relay team tee-shirt, and for good reason.
I AM NOT A GOOD RUNNER.
Nancy has all sorts of talents, but she knows running fast is not one of them. Nancy suffered a lot of teasing after last year's relay, especially from Grace. Grace is not delighted that Nancy is again on her team and she lets her know about it right away.
"RATS!! NOW WE'LL NEVER WIN!" GRACE SAYS.
GRACE CAN BE UNKIND (THAT'S FANCY FOR MEAN).
Nancy consults the weather forecast, hoping for a rain-out on Friday. She practices running every day after school. Finally she feints a sprained ankle until her dad notices that her limp switches from the right to the left foot unpredictably. Nancy at last confesses why she is trying to miss Field Day, and Dad gives her some pre-game advice which gives her the courage to confront the bullying Grace:
I GO RIGHT UP TO GRACE. I DO NOT USE FANCY WORDS.
"I WILL RUN AS FAST AS I CAN.
BUT IF WE LOSE, DON'T SAY MEAN STUFF.
YOU ARE A GOOD RUNNER. BUT YOU ARE NOT A GOOD SPORT."
GRACE WAS SPEECHLESS.
Handling bullies gracefully is the theme of Jane O'Connor's easy reader, Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl (I Can Read Book 1)
(Harper, 2011), a recent entry in the venerable Harper I-Can-Read series which deals, as do her others, with common problems of primary grade students. Even a happy student with plenty of abilities in other areas is vulnerable to being teased about his or her success in sports, and O'Connor's message, summed up in the familiar adage "it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game," is still good advice, as is her example of about standing up to bullying as soon as it occurs.