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.
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 - 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.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-This lovely adaptation is based on Hoffmann's classic story and includes a CD recording with selections from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The text includes the often-omitted "Story of the Hard Nut," which is not part of the ballet but does serve to further readers' understanding of the cause of the conflict, and of the courage and goodness displayed by Clara. Paschkis's artwork ranges from single page to vignettes bordered with Christmas decorations relating to the action on the adjacent text, to a final, lush, double-page spread. An antique-beige background is warmly complemented by a palette of yellows, oranges, and bluish greens. Even if you have the versions by Maurice Sendak (Crown, 1991) and Janet Schulman (HarperCollins, 1999), you'll want to make room for this one.-L. F. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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)