Over all, Meet Miss Fancy is an amazing fictional story about the real elephant, Miss Fancy. Irene Latham brings to life the story of an elephant and a young boy with the wish of one day being near a real elephant. The illustrations of John Holyfield not only bring to life the history of the time in fun, sweet, colorful, and realistic images, but brings to life the text as well.
There is an afterwards by the author and illustrator. The only part I disliked is there is a mention of the elephant giving rides, but not how that is dangerous to the animal. Not even in the afterwards. Yet, I figured that this could be a good jumping off point for exploring and learning about elephants in modern context as well as the history the book is set in.
The history part of the book perhaps was my favorite part. And, unfortunately, there is not as much as I would have liked. Granted, to put all the history in a picture book is most likely not possible. Therefore: Dear Author and Illustrator, Please write a book in the vein of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Meet Miss Fancy just screams: Please write this story in a midchild novel format! Thank you, A Fan.
Latham mentions how feelings were in pre-civil rights movement. The fact the church could not have a picnic in the zoo, or how people looked at Frank (the narrator of the story) just because he was standing near the zoo’s entrance, or how Frank’s mother tries to sooth his hurt would be the perfect tie-in to todays situation.
I would put this in a first to third grade classroom (the third-grade level as a read-aloud due to the picture book format) but ages (strong) five to nine would be the best audience. The younger reader might not want to sit for this slightly longer picture book, but since the illustrations are a story in themselves, you could have your own abridged version of it.