Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Pastel Posh: Fancy Nancy's Elegant Easter by Jane O'Connor



Not that Nancy Clancy needs a reason to primp herself out in party pastels! But this day she's fully decked out in a purple frock with polka dots and yellow posies, an Easter bonnet all a-peep with golden chicks, and matching Mary Janes, all ready to greet the guests for the family get-together with a bounteous "BONJOUR."

Nothing novel here. Nancy is always ready to dress up and play hostess with the mostest. But Jane O'Connor's latest seasonal soiree, Fancy Nancy's Elegant Easter (HarperFestival, 2009) does have a new plot twist for the ever-elegant Nancy: this one is a "Lift-The-Flap Book," and preschool fans will find it fine and festive fun.

It's definitely spring at Nancy's. Mom, still in her dowdy dungarees, hustles to hide the rest of the Easter eggs around the chateau, while best friend Bree arrives, a monochromatic vision in lilac, to help set up for the festivities. The two friends take on the table setting, opening (with the help of the reader) the Clancy kitchen cabinets to reveal the pastel Easter party ware inside.


Nancy and Bree then go outside to bring back some bouquets for the table from the garden, where one flap finds a bunny among the blooms and a second reveals Nancy's fancy dog Frenchy "helping" by digging up a few daffodils for the bouquet. Back inside, the girls "open" the buffet cabinet to find pastel teapots and platters and vases to finish off their fancy flower arrangements.

The finest flap trick, however, is the Clancy family table, a plain-jane wooden job, clearly not up to Nancy's festive standards. But not to worry. A well-concealed notch allows the reader to lift up and fold down the entire table top, which reveals a spotless white linen cloth perfectly set with pastel place settings, party favors, and posies. Dad, still in his regular uniform of khaki bermudas and plain tee, returns from a run to the store with a huge box hiding an elaborate Easter egg cake and a bunch of pastel helium balloons, and Nancy's parents hurry off to deck themselves out in their version of elegant attire--a tailored linen suit for Mom and a staid blue suit and tie for Dad. Everything is in place for the party at last.

Or is it? Suddenly Nancy realizes that there is a key element missing--the Easter Bunny! What kind of gala doesn't have its guest of honor? But then, whose big, furry feet are those barely visible beneath the lift-able living room drapes? You got it! It's the missing member of the Clancy clan, dressed to play the principal role. And the Easter fete is fait accompli (which is fancy for "the party is on!)

Author O'Connor's venture into the toy and movable genre does a fine job of integrating the tricks of the type into this light and light-hearted holiday story. Fans of the Fancy Nancy series won't want to miss the gala premier edition of the unflappable lift-The-flap Nancy Clancy.

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