PPBF: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl…Dealing with Bullies

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

Before we get to our picture book review and craft activity, I want to share some things with you.

  • I offered to send a Halloween Prize Package to one of the people who visited and ‘liked’ the new FB page for Show Me How!  Fifty names were entered in the Random.org drawing…and today I mailed out the Halloween cupcake set and a Halloween board book to Annie in Thornton, CO.  She has two little boys so I know she will enjoy the prize with them.  Thanks to everyone who participated!
  • It’s always a joy to get book orders from libraries because it means that hundreds of people will be able to use the book…I just received an order for two copies from the United Library Service in CALGARY, ALBERTA…yes, that’s right…CANADA!
  • We’ve decided to extend the FREE SHIPPING for anyone who orders my book throughout the holiday season!
  • Thursday morning I had two school presentations at Steele Elementary in Colorado Springs.  We read “Yes We Can” by Sam McBratney…a great picture book that addresses teasing and bullying.  The kids loved the story…even more, they loved talking about what they like to do with their friends (play, share, be kind, say I’m sorry if you hurt their feelings)…and what friends shouldn’t do to each other (don’t hit, don’t kick, don’t tease, don’t laugh at, don’t be mean).

After the story, each child made their own book of friendship.

Our challenge, as educators and as parents, is to find a way to keep alive the enthusiasm for learning that young children embrace naturally.

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday choice is a story that addresses bullying and teasing…in honor of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Written by Jane O’Connor

Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: Harper Collins (2011)

Ages: 4 and up


Believing in yourself, courage, determination, bullying, teasing, communication, friendship


Fancy Nancy has a relay race coming up…she remembers that last year her team lost because she was so slow and she was made to feel badly by one of her teammates.  Nancy pretends to have injured her foot so that she won’t have to run in the race, but her father notices that she limps on her left foot sometimes, and her right foot at other times.  When her father speaks with her, Nancy confesses the problem and has a long talk with him.  On the day of the race, Nancy confronts the ‘mean’ girl and tells her that although she is a great runner, she is not a good sport.  Does this show of courage help Nancy win the race?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Why do I like this book:

I opened this book prepared to NOT like it.  Although it is considered a picture book, it is also a ‘first reader’ type of book.  I had been turned off by the ‘hype’ of ‘Fancy Nancy’ and all of the assorted merchandising products out there.

As I read the book, the frequent definitions of ‘big’ words bothered me at first.  There is also a page at the back of the book with the same definitions.  But then I put myself in the place of a child…and I loved the book…and the definitions seemed to fit.

The messages of the story are fantastic…believe in yourself, communicate with your family when you have a problem, confront bullies with words and let them know how they are making you feel.  Children deal with real-life situations like this one every day…this would be a great story to read to your child…or for a teacher to read to a class.

The illustrations also convey the message of the story and help move it forward to a satisfactory conclusion.  The expressions on the girls’ faces are perfect!


A Storybook of Friends

Kids love to make their own books.

You will need: 1 piece of colored construction paper for the cover, 2 sheets of copy paper for the inside pages, crayons or markers and a stapler.

  1. Fold the pages in half with the construction paper sheet on the outside as the cover.
  2. Staple them so they will not fall out but can still turn.
  3. Let the child draw on the front cover and write the title of the book. (During my presentation, some of the kids decorated the back cover as well, telling me that the back of books had pictures and words also.)
  4. Encourage the child to draw a picture on each page, showing the child with his or her friends, playing, sharing, helping, listening.

Talk about teamwork and how each person on the team contributes their best.

Plan a playdate or sleepover for a couple of your child’s classmates.  This is especially important if your child is in a new school or community and is feeling out of place.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

34 thoughts on “PPBF: Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl…Dealing with Bullies

  1. That’s great that “Fancy Nancy” is onbaord with bully prevention. And, I like that it is an early reader to, which will inspire kids who like Fancy Nancy to read this one. Like your activity. I have one more to share next Friday. A lot of books coming out tackling this theme — GREAT!


  2. My kids like the Fancy Nancy books and they’re boys! Even though she’s a girl, she’s not completely focused on doing girly things, but is more of an explorer and creative person, so my kids are attracted to that. I LOVE how she’s very open to discussing her problems with the adults in her life and how they’re not giving her the answer but help her figure it out. I also thought the vocabulary explanations would be cumbersome but I find them great and my kids remember the words very well after we read the book. Too many children’s books try to use fancy words that may not be easy to understand, even in context. The Fancy Nancy books use them in context and have a child give a simple definition. Much better than me trying to explain it, or my kids just wondering what the word means. And yes, it’s for early readers and it’s one of the best series for that. So many early reader books are boring to death, with no interesting stories whatsoever. We just read Fancy Nancy and the too loose tooth tonight, and we all enjoyed it.


  3. Vivian, You had a busy, busy Thursday. A good pick. We’ve read a few of the Fancy Nancy books, but they are a little advanced for my toddler. However, he loves the Amelia Bedelia books. Have a great weekend. Hope all was well after you left critique group.


    • Thanks, Stacy! I’ve also concentrated on books for the much younger audience…but I think it’s important for me to branch out a little and check out books for the older kids as well.
      Thanks for asking…Stu is not doing so well. 😦 The doc thinks it might be pneumonia again or TB…yikes! But he is on anti-biotics now…and will probably have the xray and CT scan of his lungs on Monday to get to the bottom of this. He’s been running a fever for several days…I stayed home from work today to take care of him.


  4. Thanks for the review, Vivian. I love your activity as always 🙂 I’m glad to hear you get behind a Fancy Nancy book – I tend to have a little bit the same reaction you described, so maybe I should give some of them another try 🙂 Any book with such important messages has value. Thanks for adding this one to our list!


    • Thanks, Julie! When I see all the marketing add-ons that sometimes accompany a book, I often get a negative impression…although perhaps I’d feel differently if it was MY book and I was reaping mega-money from those products. 🙂 I’m glad you will give Fancy Nancy a try…I can’t speak about the other books in the series…but I’ll definitely check my library. It’s kind of like the Beranstain Bears series…there is a book there for EVERYTHING…not sure that any of them would be considered great kidlit, but they certainly are popular. 🙂


  5. Hi Vivian- I’m so glad you reviewed this. I have to say, I really like the Fancy Nancy books, too, and I was equally prepared to hate them. My daughter got one for Christmas last year and it was actually a really touching story, and we’ve since checked out a few others from the library. It’s funny because the hype really does not lead you to expect what you actually get with those books. And I do think it is such a clever way to introduce new vocabulary — that she wants everything to be fancy including language.

    My son also loves to make his own books. He’s written way more books than I have at this point. These photos are sweet. Thanks for sharing!


    •  Thanks for sharing so much about your own reaction to ‘Fancy Nancy’.  I think quite a few of us felt the same way, Carrie…and I’m really happy I gave this one a go for PPBF!  That’s great that your son loves to write his own books…how old is he?  I think that the key to school (and life) success is to be able to keep alive that enthusiasm for learning that almost every young child has. 🙂  


  6. A lot of the girls who read to me like Fancy Nancy. She is a sure favorite. And I must say, I kind of like her too! And I really like your idea of the friendship book. I’ve found that kids really like creating their own “real” book! Thanks for all of this!


  7. This does sound like a book with a good message. We have checked a few FANCY NANCY books out from the library, mostly because I wanted to read them. But this one looks like it could appeal to both genders more than most of the books.


  8. Gee, like you I guess all the hype about the Fancy Nancy books, I kind of steered clear of them…. mmm now I will have to take a look. Thanks to your review. Always love your activities. I know I would love to be a kid in your class!


    • You are so sweet, Diane!  I’m looking forward to the next go-round of our international critique group…can’t decide if I should resubmit Dylan with the improvements/changes/revisions…or go with another ms I am working on. 🙂


  9. I enjoy Fancy Nancy books . . . because “Nancy” is such a great name. 😉

    Congrats on the library orders, Vivian. The Island Library reopened last Wednesday after being closed for 6 months for renovations. I’ll be dropping off a copy of Show Me How one day this week. 😀


  10. I will definitely have to read this. I added it to my list. I haven’t read but a couple of Fancy Nancy books and I liked that they promoted vocabulary. They sure are popular and I’m glad this one talks about bullying.


  11. I just read Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl and agree with your observations. I find that many “anti bullying” books rely on magical solutions to the bullying problem. I like the fact that this book does not.Thank you for the extension activities. It is great to see the lively conversation about this book and your post.


    • Thank you so much, Carolyn, for your thoughtful comment! I just visited your wonderful website…what an amazing resource you have provided for parents and teachers who are concerned about bullying! I’ve subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to receiving it. 🙂


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