Who's Prima Now? Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet by Jane O'Connor
"I HAVE THRILLING NEWS--MEMORABLE, TERRIFIC, AND EXCITING ALL MIXED TOGETHER!
"WE'RE GOING TO BE IN A BALLET!" I TELL MY MOM AND JOJO. "IT'S CALLED DEEP-SEA DANCES."
I'M POSITIVE--THAT'S FANCY FOR 100 PERCENT SURE--THAT MADAME LUCILLE WILL PICK BREE AND ME TO BE MERMAIDS."
After all, Nancy and Bree are already knowledgeable about all things mermaid-ish. They have made mermaid outfits already, have redesigned their clubhouse, renamed the "Mermaid Mansion," and they practice daily, floating gracefully in their own private lagoon (Jojo's plastic backyard pool.) And at class their plies are pliant and their posture is perfect. Nancy even knows all the French ballet terminology. They can't wait to take center stage together in their glamorous mermaid costumes.
"NANCY, REMEMBER," MOM WARNS. "BEING IN A BALLET IS THRILLING, NO MATTER WHAT PART YOU HAVE.",
Sure that they are shoo-ins for stardom, Nancy and Bree really try to catch Madame Lucille's eye in class.
Mais non! When the casting is posted, the hopeful duo are disappointed. Savannah gets the plum role as prima mermaid. And even worse, neither of them make the mermaid corps de ballet. Bree is cast as an oyster, and Nancy is a tree! Not much chance for stardom or glamor in those dumb roles!
Nancy is consoled by the thought that at least Bree didn't make mermaid while she was stuck with being background scenery, and gamely the two give their roles their best shot, holding out at least for snazzy costumes. At least, Nancy consoles herself, she's a weeping willow, a tree with fancy possibilities, and she even begins to get into her role, practicing swaying and swooping gracefully in the imagined breeze.
And then... that predictable showbiz predicament presents itself. Savannah sprains her ankle and is unable to take the stage to lead the mermaid dancers. The show must go on, and suddenly there is a role available in the mermaid corps. But which one of the girls is going to get that sparkly, spangly role?
Jane O'Connor comes through again in her newest, Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet (Harper, 2012), hitting all the right notes in her latest chronicle of primary-grade problems. If Bree gets the open mermaid role, how will Nancy handle the understandable rush of jealousy as Bree gets sparkly, spangled fins while Nancy has to make do with tinsel branches? Will she be able to rise to the occasion and give her usual sparkle and elan to a background bit part?
O'Connor and illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser come through as always with a winner. Glasser's fancy artwork brings all the little dancers to life with charm and grace, portraying in facial expressions and body language the feelings of all the little dancers, and O'Connor hits just the right tone as she reveals Nancy's inner turmoil as she meets another early childhood rite of passage.