arts & entertainment
Fancy Nancy Costco visits AUTHOR JANE O’CONNOR imagines Costco through the yes of young readers’ favor- ite fabulous little girl.
to love reading,” says the self-described “die-hard New Yorker.” “So Fancy Nancy is the absolute acme,
zenith and whatever other fancy word for ‘high
point’ you can think of. It’s been an unbelievable
experience, just completely happy and rewarding
in every single way.”
There’s a lot about shopping that my mom doesn’t
understand. She thinks it
means buying stuff you need
like laundry detergent. But
she’s mistaken, which is fancy
for wrong, wrong, wrong!
Shopping is for purchasing
things you want, like sunglasses that make you look
like a celebrity or a lifetime
supply of glitter markers.
When we go to Costco we
are both happy. My mom finds
what she needs and I find
what I want.
Fancy Nancy’s genesis—“fancy word for ‘
beginning,’ ” cracks O’Connor—came in
the author’s own longing
for childhood fantasy,
specifically female oriented. “All of my children
are sons, so I think I was
looking to connect with the
little diva that was my inner
child,” she says. The first
Nancy story was penned
quickly, but O’Connor held on
to it until acclaimed and distinctive illustrator Robin Preiss
ib o h
The merchandise (that’s
fancy for stuff) is big too! Today
we are buying gigantic jars of
mayonnaise and peanut butter,
a package of chopped meat
that will probably make about
a million burgers and a carton
of ice cream almost the same
size as my sister. (I’m only
exaggerating a little.) I adore
the food aisles because Costco
people offer such yummy free
samples. I never refuse a free
sample, and I always curtsey
and say, “Merci.”
never knew each other before
Glasser became available. “We
never knew each other before
the first book, but now we often
say that we share one brain. I can
only see Nancy as Robin draws
0 ri e
Despite nearly 40 years in the
publishing world, nothing prepared O’Connor for
the blockbuster success of Fancy Nancy.
When my mom is all done,
she lets us each buy a treat.
My sister wants a harmonica,
and I select (that’s fancy for
choose) some velvet ribbon,
which will look lovely tied
around my wrist.
“I never got to play dress-up with
daughters, and now I get to be with all
these little divas,” she says. “It’s so much
fun to do these book tours. I did a few
for my adult book, but I never got
hugged or kissed at any of them.” C
m d o
“You never do know about these
things. It’s baffling,” she says.
O’Connor, who published her
first foray into adult fiction last year,
especially cherishes the rambunctious book tours that promote Nancy.
spree is over, and
everyone is happy.
Costco may not look
fancy, but every-
thing you want is
there. To me, it’s
not a warehouse;
it’s a shopping
her own “Fancy
By J. Rentilly “SMASH HI T,” “knockout,” “blockbuster,” “tri- umph”—these are all fancy words for “successful”—
or wildly successful, which is exactly what Jane
O’Connor’s children’s book series, Fancy Nancy, is.
In the series, already 13 books strong, a spritely, precocious young girl enjoys glamour and adventure,
both real and imagined, while bucking
the banal and, only incidentally, building her vocabulary by learning fancy
words for other words.
Any resemblance Fancy Nancy
bears to her creator, O’Connor, is
purely a matter of the 61-year-old
author reconnecting with the child
of wonder she once was. “
Six-year-old me definitely had a glittery side
that the grown-up me had somehow lost,” says O’Connor, who
lives on the Upper West Side of
Manhattan, only three blocks
from where she grew up.
If Nancy’s opulent fantasia
of colors and comedic scenarios provide the books with
their sizzle, the synonym-find-ing imparts their nutritional value—no surprise,
since O’Connor has spent almost four decades working in the publishing industry as a well-regarded
children’s book editor. “I love editing and also feel
that working on other people’s manuscripts makes
me a sharper writer,” she tells The Connection.
Today, O’Connor is enjoying the authorial career
most of her clients would kill for, what with Fancy
Nancy becoming a virtual cottage industry—millions
of books sold, a mad rush of tie-ins and merchandising, and more than 100 weeks on the New York Times
“My whole career has been about getting kids
e o n c “S d g - nt t
The Costco Connection
Fancy Nancy, Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy,
Bonjour Butterfly and Splendiferous Christmas are
available in most Costco warehouses.
J. Rentilly is a Los Angeles–based