ISBN: 978-0-399-54668-6

G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin
Illustrations by John Holyfield

"Author and artist together take a small but memorable anecdote from Birmingham history... and create a window into the Jim Crow South while also telling a compelling tale about a boy and an elephant."
- Horn Book

"Quality storytelling and beautiful art allow a likable protagonist to shine."
- Kirkus

Frank cannot believe it when he hears that a real, live elephant might be moving to his town. Frank loves everything about elephants but has never seen a real one, so this possibility seems miraculous. This book is based on the true story of a retired circus elephant who was purchased by the children of Avondale, Alabama, so that she could live in their park in 1913. Fictional Frank was one of the children who raised the money by collecting pennies, but when Miss Fancy arrives, racist laws prevent him from entering the park and getting close to her. Readers'hearts will break as Frank's does when they encounter the page depicting his small figure before a sign reading "No Colored Allowed." Eventually, events turn in Frank's favor, but not before readers have had a chance to linger vicariously in this moment in time, sharing in Frank's yearning and determination. A delightful centerfold depicting Miss Fancy's escape from the park adds comic relief. Illustrated by renowned painter Holyfield, Meet Miss Fancy should be savored for its joyous, vibrant renderings of Avondale's African American community and families, so full of movement and light that they often resemble stills from an animated film. This is a gem of a story. —Amina Chaudhri

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Young Frank is elephant-mad, and when he finds out his hometown of Birmingham is going to get their very own elephant, he's over the moon. He's despondent, however, that Avondale Park, Miss Fancy's new home, has a big sign saying "No Colored Allowed." He bonds with the pachyderm by secretly feeding her peanuts over the park wall, but he really longs "to stroke her trunk the way the other children did." When Miss Fancy escapes to Frank's neighborhood, will he get his chance? This is a fictional story based on the factual Miss Fancy, who resided in an Alabama park from 1913 to 1934, who was cared for by an African-American keeper, and whose park home was off-limits to the city's Black residents. The bitter unfairness of our fictional hero's exclusion will keenly affect many young kids who will see elephant access as a more important issue than lack of scholastic opportunity. However, the happy wish fulfillment of Frank's getting to ride Miss Fancy after leading her back to the park leaves so much injustice uncorrected (he's still not allowed in the park and probably will never get to touch her again) that it's a hollow and barely satisfying triumph. Holyfield's cheerful, robust illustrations use effective painterly textures to bring the period to life; he's particularly strong on the limber, slightly stylized human figures, with Frank distinctive in his jaunty cap. This isn't the clearest introduction to segregation, but it's one that may snatch at kids'hearts and lead to more exploration. DS

A young boy helps raise money to bring an elephant to his town, but will he get to touch it like the other children do? Frank can't wait to welcome Miss Fancy to her new home in nearby Avondale Park. But a sign stops him: "No Colored Allowed." He climbs a tree and tosses peanuts to Miss Fancy, but it isn't close enough. He can't bring himself to break the law by entering the park. He asks the Rev. Brooks what he can do. They decide to write a letter asking the city to allow their congregation to have a Sunday picnic at the park. They get plenty of signatures, and their request is approved, but then the Rev. Brooks brings the sad news to Frank that they won't have the picnic after all, because "there could be trouble." "Trouble" meant black people could be hurt or worse." Finally, Frank ingeniously finds a way to lead Miss Fancy out of the park and then back. For returning her, he is rewarded with his dream. Readers will feel for Frank from the first page; his singular goal is a brilliant vehicle for making the injustice of segregation concrete for young readers while telling an interesting story based on historical events (as described in an author's note). Holyfield's skillful artwork uses complex color blends, light, and shadow with stylized form to create memorable characters and scenes. Unfortunately, while the upbeat ending is good for Frank, it elides the decades of Jim Crow that followed the events of the story. Quality storytelling and beautiful art allow a likable protagonist to shine. (Picture book. 4-8)
- Kirkus Reviews

Horn Book
Frank (an African American boy who looks to be about ten years old) already loves elephants, with "their flap-flap ears, their tree-stump feet and their swish-swish tails," so when he hears that a circus elephant named Miss Fancy is retiring to nearby Avondale Park, he is thrilled. However, it's Birmingham, Alabama, in the early twentieth century, and Frank is disappointed to find out he can't visit: "NO COLORED ALLOWED." When his church successfully petitions the city to allow its members to have a picnic at the park, Frank is eager to go, but the offer is retracted for fear of "trouble." "Trouble" meant black people would be hurt or worse. Miss Fancy—a known escape artist—has other ideas, and when she takes herself on a chaotic and funny walk through Frank's neighborhood, the clever boy is able to lure her back to the park, where he gets the opportunity he'd dreamed of. Holyfield's paintings are lush and supple, with Frank's emotions made poignant and clear from both his face and body language. The illustrations carefully depict the clothing and houses of the early twentieth century, helping to set the scene for young readers while also conveying that Frank and his commu-nity are very much like the people they know now. Author and artist together take a small but memorable anecdote from Birmingham history (according to Latham's author's note, Frank is fictional, but Miss Fancy and the church picnic are not) and create a window into the Jim Crow South while also telling a compelling tale about a boy and an elephant. susan dove lempke

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