The Nutcracker

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The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition ...
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The Nutcracker

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Overview

The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann's wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages. The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak's art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann's story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.

A young girl receives a nutcracker for Christmas and, after learning how he got his ugly face, helps break a spell and change him into a handsome prince.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Julie Paschkis's eclectic illustrations accompany this adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker, which includes some darker tales that never made it into the dance and a CD of Tchaikovsky's musical score, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though many children are familiar with the Nutcracker ballet, Schulman's (The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury) more complete version of Hoffman's "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" will keep young readers on their toes. This vivid tale of intrigue, wicked curses and rodents hot on revenge satisfyingly reveals why the Mouse King and the Nutcracker were such bitter enemies. The text was originally published in 1979; kids and parents will like the way it's presented here, with a CD containing actress Claire Bloom's reading of the story and selections of Tchaikovsky's music, and with Graef's slightly dark, antique-flavored paintings, themselves spiced with 19th-century decorations, toys and sweets. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman's fantasy about a warring seven-headed Rat King and Nutcracker, toys come to life and mesmerizing lands made of candy, retains its bite in a new picture-book abridgement with illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger, retold by Susanne Koppe, trans. from the German by Anthea Bell. The gracefully composed watercolors in this new edition refrain from the frolic and whimsy she exhibited with the artwork for a 1979 edition of The Nutcracker, but possess dreamlike flair nonetheless. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
At Christmas time, the familiar music of Tchaikovsky from his ballet version of The Nutcracker fills the airwaves and theaters. This "Eyewitness Classic" presents the story accompanied by illustrations that depict scenes and reproductions of artifacts, people and places appropriate to the story and its setting. Introductory pages offer a glimpse of Christmas in Germany during the early 19th century and the types of toys children would play with, while the closing pages mention the ballet and reveal a bit about Hoffmann. There is plenty to look at and kids may enjoy looking at the pictures and reading the captions before launching into the story. The story itself is engaging and filled with action. It also has a positive message, although the happily ever after ending--Marie's marriage to the King who had been enchanted and turned into an ugly nutcracker--may not be as appealing to modern tastes. However, the bravery and kindness of Marie more than make up for the fairy tale ending. 1999, DK Publishing, Ages 8 up, $14.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
When exhausted parents collapse on Christmas Eve as their energetic children shout for more action, take out a copy of The Nutcracker. Put on the CD that accompanies the book so that the kiddies can hear the story read by Claire Bloom and listen to the background Tchaikovsky music. If the children are old enough, they can read along with Ms. Bloom and enjoy the illustrations of Renee Graef. This is a most pleasant diversion.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
An abbreviated version of this holiday story is retold here in rebus form. Kids are invited to place the stickers in their proper places within the text. Even if the stickers are lost 2 sets are included, the story can still be read since there is a blue outline drawing of each object. Each page also contains a list of the words that are represented by the stickers.
Children's Literature
For many this book represents all that embodies the holiday season: gifts shared with family and friends, decorated trees, and magical moments to be cherished. In this adaptation there is the darker element of the conflict between the nutcracker man/boy and the King of the Mice. "Godpapa Drosselmeir" tells the story of the curse of the Queen of the Mice upon the first born child of the queen and king of Nuremberg. Angry over the death of her seven sons (in mouse traps invented by Drosselmeir himself) the Queen of the Mice causes the infant Princess Pirlipat to turn into a hideous baby with glassy-green eyes "that nearly popped out of her head" and an ugly mouth that stretched on her oversized head "from ear to ear." The King blames Drosselmeir for incurring the wrath of the Oueen of the Mice and Drosselmeir spends years finding a "cure" for the princess. The cure is a special nut that is extremely difficult to crack—you guessed it—Drosselmeir's own nephew has the ability to crack tough nuts with his extraordinarily strong teeth. Pirlipat is cured BUT the nephew is turned into an ugly nutcracker who is destined to fight the Seven-Headed son of the Queen of the Mice. This complicated story-line is not for everyone but for better listeners it will explain the enmity between nutcracker and the rodents. Naturally there are the magical scenes in the Land of the Toys after the nutcracker is returned to his natural state by the love of Marie. The happy-ever-ending with marriage and reign in the magical kingdom make this the thing of which dreams are made. The muted, nostalgically old-fashioned illustrations give this a "classic" look which will make it popular for gift giving. 1999,Harper, Ages 4 to 8.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7 An elegantly produced book which most libraries will not need. The Nutcracker story is not appealing or co herent enough to interest most children today. It would probably be forgotten altogether if it were not for the ballet whose story is drawn from, but not the same as, Hoffmann's tale. While Ma rie's encounters with the seven-headed mouse king, her love for the Nutcrack er, and Drosselmeier's tale of the un grateful Princess Pirlipat might interest many readers, the trip through Toyland is cloying and boring. The ending, in which Marie (still a little girl) marries Drosselmeier's nephew and goes to live in Toyland is both excessively romantic and unbelievable even within the con ventions of fantasy. Throughout the story hints of the dark nature of Dros selmeier are given but never explained. Libraries with a need for a good transla tion of The Nutcracker will find that this is comparable to Ralph Manheim's version (Crown, 1984), illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and more complete than Anthea Bell's version (Picture Book Studio, 1987), illustrated by Liz beth Zwerger. Goodrich's illustrations are outstanding. His rich earth-toned paintings have a hazy, dreamlike quali ty which enhances the fantasy. Fritz and Marie are angelic and doll-like, while Drosselmeier is truly menacing. The Nutcracker manages to seem both wooden and expressive at the same time. The design and format of the book are also excellent. Unfortunately the story is not worthy of them. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, N.J.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-After illustrating The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King (Picture Book Studio, 1983; o.p.), Zwerger has taken on the challenge of creating a completely different set of images almost a quarter century later. She has succeeded admirably. This version features somewhat surreal, almost theatrically presented tableaux, delicately and darkly rendered in pen and ink and watercolor. Readers are far removed from the action-sometimes back in the nosebleed section, as opposed to the earlier edition, in which readers were right in the middle of everything. The 2004 Marie is a china doll of a girl, unlike the more realistically presented character of the past. This would be a hard version to share with a group, though Koppe's retelling is more accessible and detailed than the earlier title. This Nutcracker dramatically illustrates the growth and evolution of an important illustrator.-M. A. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
According to the introduction, the beloved Yuletide ballet that we see was based on a gentler version of the tale by Alexandre Dumas pere. This version, which differs from the ballet in several ways, is based on Hoffmann's 1816 original and tells a richer tale. Clara and Fritz are delighted with the Christmas gifts of their godfather Drosselmeier, especially the Nutcracker, which Clara cares for even after Fritz breaks its jaw. Clara encounters the Mouse King and his minions not once but twice in dreamlike sequences, and in between, she hears Drosselmeier's stories of "the Hard Nut" and "Why the Nutcracker Is So Ugly." Those intensify her resolve and add layers to the story. The gouache illustrations have a beautiful folktale dreaminess-echoes of Chagall here-as Paschkis borders center images with horror vacui designs in single bright colors. The figures are angular and exaggerated but wonderfully detailed. Paschkis plays with repetitive motifs and silhouetted patterns: Clara's long braid regularly whips out of the picture plane. The accompanying CD by the London Symphony Orchestra contains excerpts from Tchaikovsky's score. Unfortunately, there is no credit given for either the introduction or the retelling itself. (Picture book/folktale. 7-10)
From the Publisher
"A classic, new and complete."--New York Times Book Review

"E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker, illustrated with wild-rumpus appeal by Maurice Sendak, restores the holiday classic to its original enigmatic luster."--Vogue
From Barnes & Noble
After all the presents are opened on Christmas Eve, young Marie Stahlbaum finds one more--the enchanted Nutcracker. Readers of all ages will be charmed by the stories-within-stories in this adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic tale--stories as intricate as the toys constructed by Godfather Drosselmeir for young Marie. Autographed by award-winning illustrator Robert Innocenti (whose beautifully detailed drawings bring to life such scenes as the attack of the mouse army and Marie's journey through Candy Meadow), this edition of the beloved classic is sure to become a treasured holiday tradition to be shared among friends and family. 10" x12". Ages 6 & up
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525362456
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/1979
  • Series: Fairy Tale Classics Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 1
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.66 (w) x 6.26 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) was one of the best known and most influential authors of his time.  Phantasiestücke, his earliest collection of tales, appeared in 1814.  This was followed three years later by Nachstücke and then in 1819-21 by Die Serapoins brüder.  Among his longer works is his second and final novel, Die Lebensansichten des Katers Murr (The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr), which represents the highpoint of his art.  He exploited the grotesque and the bizarre in a manner unmatched by any other Romantic writer.

Joachim Neugroschel (translator, 1938-2011) won three PEN translation awards and the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He translated Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs, among other works, for Penguin Classics.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Christmas Eve 1
The Presents 6
Marie's Favorite 11
Strange Happenings 15
The Battle 27
Marie's Illness 34
The Story of the Hard Nut 41
The Story of the Hard Nut, Continued 47
The Story of the Hard Nut, Concluded 52
Uncle and Nephew 60
Victory 63
The Land of Dolls 71
The Capital 76
Conclusion 95
Acknowledgments 102
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of The Nutcracke

    I recently had the opportunity to review a copy of The Nutcracker.  This classic tale has been taken to new heights with the amazing and beautiful artwork of Maurice Sendak.  While it's a bit long for my two year old to sit through, it lovingly adorns his shelf and we can read bit and pieces of this holiday classic nightly this season.  The story is as beautifully translated as possible, but the it's the artwork that is the real star.  I can't wait until our little lady joins our family and both little ones are old enough to enjoy this beautiful story and handcrafted artwork!  If you're a fan of The Nutcracker, be sure to pick up a copy this season!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was very blessed to win this wonderful book from Goodreads Giv

    I was very blessed to win this wonderful book from Goodreads Give-away! It was the wonderful and original story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann with breath taking illustrations by Maurice Sendak. This was honestly the first time I read the full story in it's entirety and what a wonderful fairy tale for any person who loves fairy tale stories! Magical and also makes a great Christmas read! I will be buying some of these as gifts for sure. Make sure to pick up your copy today! Thanks again for choosing me as the winner of such a great prize. My family will treasure it for years to come!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2012

    I requested this book so that I could read it to my daughter.  S

    I requested this book so that I could read it to my daughter.  Since she is only two it was a slower process.  I was unexpectedly intrigued by the story, so I ended up reading ahead on my own.  I had seen the Nutcracker ballet, but the book provided many more details than the ballet.  I am excited to watch the ballet again after having read the true story.  The illustrations by Maurice Sendak  are absolutely beautiful. I look forward to reading this book over and over to my children through the coming years.  I highly recommend this book as a keepsake.


    More info
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    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2013

    To me, this is the best version of the Nutcracker story, because

    To me, this is the best version of the Nutcracker story, because it was based on the sets that Sendak did for the Nutcracker ballet (for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, in 1984, I think).
    The story is deftly told, and can keep the attention of even very young listeners, but, of course, the artwork is the star of this book (just as it was in the ballet). 
    Not everyone knows that Hoffman revered Mozart.  Sendak did.  Within the ballet, there is a vignette that feature Mozart's music, and within the book, there is a bust of Mozart prominently on a bookshelf.  I also love the book because the story of the hard nut is told (how the nephew first turned into a nutcracker).  And because, about two-thirds of the way through it, there are nine full pages of illustration without text.  Nine full pages of Sendak illustrations!

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