The Harlem Nutcracker: Picture Book

The Harlem Nutcracker: Picture Book

by Susan Kuklin, Donald Byrd
     
 

This innovative interpretation of The Nutcracker ballet combines the beauty and sizzle of Harlem Renaissance nightclubs, the power of true love, and the magic of Christmas. The Harlem Nutcracker tells the story of the recently widowed Clara, whose fear and despair on Christmas Eve melt away during a fantastical journey back in time with the ghost of her beloved… See more details below

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Overview

This innovative interpretation of The Nutcracker ballet combines the beauty and sizzle of Harlem Renaissance nightclubs, the power of true love, and the magic of Christmas. The Harlem Nutcracker tells the story of the recently widowed Clara, whose fear and despair on Christmas Eve melt away during a fantastical journey back in time with the ghost of her beloved husband. Donald Byrd's jazzy ballet--which has played to rave reviews across the country since its debut in 1996--celebrates African American family and history, and the joy of Christmas.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Choreographer Byrd collaborates with photographer Kuklin (Dance) for this African-American take on a holiday classic. Here, Clara is a widowed grandmother living in Harlem, and a family feud breaks out on Christmas Eve. When Death pays a call, Clara fends him off with her nutcracker (her late husband, Gus). Clara reviews her life, ? la Scrooge, then comes a family reconciliation and, after Clara passes the nutcracker on to her grandson, she surrenders to Death. Although the volume celebrates the importance of cultural and family ties, the narrative meanders (e.g., "Everyone liked the Dominicans because they were kind and they were fun") and the photos are uncharacteristically grainy. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Forget the Sugar Plum Fairy and those syrupy waltzes you can't get out of your head each December. This is a new Nutcracker, with jazz by Ellington, African-American and Dominican children as party guests, and a Harlem nightclub of the '20s as the fantasy destination for Clara and her prince. Byrd created his innovative version of the classic Christmas ballet for his own dance company, and the production was skillfully photographed by co-author Kuklin (Hoops with Swoopes, p. 742, etc.). Here, Clara is an African-American grandmother facing her first Christmas without her beloved husband Gus, who returns to her in dream sequences and again as the transformed nutcracker. The story mirrors the basic plot of the ballet, with the theme here of an aging grandmother's acceptance of her husband's passing and her own impending death rather than a young girl's awakening. The antagonist is not the Mouse King, but a rather terrifying specter of death, who comes for Clara with his accompanying hounds, death maidens, and ghouls. At first, Clara repels the figure of death, but at the end, she is no longer afraid of him, and she exits on the arm of her husband-prince as they "climb the stairway to eternity." Kuklin, an experienced dance photographer, captures both the expressive movement of the dancers and their subtle emotions in superb photographs with black backgrounds framed in jewel tones of ruby, emerald, and lapis. This powerful story is not just another retold fairy tale; it stands on its own, dancing in the reader's imagination. Authors' note. (Picture book. 8-11)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786806331
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:
09/01/2001
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
6 - 8 Years

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