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By Soline McLain Holmes ’98, Lower School Librarian
On Tuesday, February 6, in collaboration with Garden District Books, the Little Hearts and Lower School Sacred Heart girls welcomed Fancy Nancy illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser. Ms. Glasser was overwhelmed by the excitement and costumes worn by the entire campus. The Dads on Duty were in spirit wearing boas as they helped girls out of their cars in the morning. Even Flat Philippine donned a boa, tutu, green wig, and tiara welcoming Ms. Glasser to the school. Ms. Glasser was decked out in hot pink and black with lots of what she described as “genuine imitation diamonds”…rhinestones! She elaborated that she “would have worn a gown if she knew [we] were going to be such an amazing school!”
Ms. Glasser gave a wonderful presentation to the Little Hearts 3/4s through fourth grade students. She began by asking the audience to give examples of “fancy words” and explained that “illustrator” is the fancy word for the person who creates the pictures for books. Of course, she was impressed that our girls already knew this. Everyone learned a new word—an unpublished book written by a female is a “womanscript” (instead of “manuscript”).
The illustrator talked about her background as a ballet dancer and how she did not begin her career as an illustrator until she was in her 30s. Her ballet experience has helped with her illustrations because, in ballet, emotions are shown through movement. As an example, Ms. Glasser showed images of Nancy dancing across the pages of her books. She creates her images using pen and ink and then watercolor.
Ms. Glasser’s words were full of inspiration and encouragement. She told the girls her number one piece of advice: Have a good attitude. Ms. Glasser said, “Whatever comes your way, just deal with it because, whatever you do in life, if you have a good attitude, you will be successful.” Ms. Glasser elaborated that she had to keep a good attitude when she had to submit 27 different versions of the cover of her newly published Fancy Nancy: Oodles of Kittens before it was accepted by her publishers.
In advance of the presentation, the publisher had instructed Sacred Heart to provide 20 bananas. Throughout the presentation, the bananas lined the front of the stage. Near the end, Ms. Glasser called up volunteers to try to balance the bananas on their heads. She explained the importance of good posture for everyone (not just ballet dancers.) When she was younger, children practiced good posture by balancing books on their heads, but she loves books and doesn’t want them to get smooshed. So, she uses bananas!
She then opened the presentation up for questions, and one girl from each homeroom went onstage with her. We learned that The Mermaid Ballet is her favorite Fancy Nancy book, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh is her favorite book that she did not write. When she was little, she wanted to be a ballet dancer, an illustrator, and a hair dresser…she has accomplished two of these childhood career goals…and still has time to become a hair dresser! It takes her four to five months to create a Fancy Nancy book but takes her from eight months to a year to create a non-Fancy Nancy book.
Ms. Glasser was overwhelmed by the school’s participation and repeatedly promised the Lower School Library a complete set of the Fancy Nancy books. Sadly, Oodles of Kittens is the last of the Fancy Nancy books to be published because Disney, Jr. is going to premier a new Fancy Nancy cartoon series later this spring.
Ms. Glasser left the girls with a challenge. In the final Fancy Nancy chapter book, everything changes for Nancy, and it ends with a cliffhanger. Ms. Glasser challenged the girls to read the book and decide what happens to Nancy next. Librarians Mrs. Muller and Mrs. Holmes will be coordinating a writing project in library classes because Ms. Glasser wants to know: 1. Their favorite book; 2. Their favorite word; and 3. What happens to Nancy at the end of the series.
Ms. Glasser was raving about Sacred Heart for the rest of the day. She told us that Sacred Heart was her “favorite school ever!” Ms. Glasser’s final advice to her audience was to “Read! Read! Read!”