The spunky and fashion-forward heroine of Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser’s long-running picture book series, Fancy Nancy, is about to get a new starring role. An animated Fancy Nancy TV series premieres on Disney Junior on July 13, and a second season has already been ordered. Lead voice actors include Mia Sinclair Jenness as six-year-old Nancy, along with Rob Riggle and Alyson Hannigan as Nancy’s parents. The series, which is aimed at viewers ages two to seven, includes two 11-minute stories per episode and will feature both original storylines and music.
Since the 2005 publication of Fancy Nancy (HarperCollins), the series has grown into a franchise that includes more than 100 picture books, readers, 8x8 storybooks, and activity books. More than 30 million Fancy Nancy books have sold worldwide. With the premiere of the series, Disney Press will be publishing additional line extensions of the franchise, and dolls, toys, and accessories will be available at Disney stores starting this summer.
Krista Tucker, who developed the series for television and serves as head writer and story editor, and Emily Hart, v-p of original programming at Disney Junior, spoke with PW about adapting the world of Fancy Nancy from page to screen.
As the mother of two girls who are very fond of the Fancy Nancy books, Hart was “personally and professionally” excited to acquire rights to Fancy Nancy in 2014. “My first priority was to create a relationship [with O’Connor and Glasser] and to build trust,” she said; “my goal was to service the books and to create visuals that popped off the screen, while capturing the beauty and whimsy [of Glasser’s artwork].” As far as Tucker and Hart are concerned, they succeeded: when they first saw the artwork for the show, “tears started flowing,” Hart recalled.
Tucker and Hart believe that, in addition to capturing the spirit of Glasser’s illustrations, the show also vividly reflects Nancy’s distinctive creative problem-solving and DIY approach to life. For example, in one episode, when Nancy is disappointed that her parents won’t take her to Paris, she decides to build her own Paris in the backyard. In keeping with Nancy’s Francophilia, French vocabulary and cultural references are also mainstays in the TV series.
Many episodes will feature other educational material tied to themes explored throughout the series. And, Tucker says, while “it’s not a show that’s teaching morals and ethics, Nancy does learn valuable lessons.”
Tucker believes that Nancy’s strongest appeal as a heroine stems from her relatability and can-do attitude, traits that she hopes will resonate with viewers as much on-screen as in the books. “She’s such a well-defined, perfectly imperfect character with a vision of what she wants from the world,” Tucker said.