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Snowflakes aren’t the only things that dance at Christmastime. So do nutcrackers, little girls, mouse-kings, and toys! In this beautiful edition of the classic story we love so much, none of the little characters ever age or become faded or threadbare. This keep-forever volume is priced to be within everyone’s reach. And, come holiday time, this is the book they’ll reach for.

A young girl receives a nutcracker for Christmas and, after learning how he got his ugly ...

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Snowflakes aren’t the only things that dance at Christmastime. So do nutcrackers, little girls, mouse-kings, and toys! In this beautiful edition of the classic story we love so much, none of the little characters ever age or become faded or threadbare. This keep-forever volume is priced to be within everyone’s reach. And, come holiday time, this is the book they’ll reach for.

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
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
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.
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 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: 9780609610497
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/23/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST 2001 E
  • Pages: 120
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.19 (w) x 10.15 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Maurice Sendak

Don Daily (1940-2002) illustrated many classic children’s books and anthologies for Courage Books. He also created posters for many films, including The Lone Ranger, The Great Santini, and Roots. Daily’s work has appeared in such magazines as Reader's Digest, Cosmopolitan, and Good Housekeeping.


"I never wrote a book where I taught a lesson," Maurice Sendak once bragged in an interview. Fans of his lyrical, lushly illustrated picture books know Sendak has a far more important mission. Rather than instructing his young readers in proper manners, the man who's been called "the Picasso of children's books" has been a vital, expressive voice for children's feelings.

Sendak first honed his art as an illustrator for writers like Ruth Krauss and Else Holmelund Minarek. He explored different styles of drawing and painting, influenced by sources as diverse as William Blake, Randolph Caldecott and Walt Disney.

In the '50s and early '60s, Sendak began to write his own books, and to forge his own distinctive visual style. The most popular of the works produced in what he later called his "apprenticeship period" was The Nutshell Library, a collection of four tiny books (2 1/2 by 4 inches wide) that was instantly and enduringly popular.

His first mature work, Where the Wild Things Are (1963), was a watershed both in Sendak's career and the history of children's literature. It tells the story of a boy named Max, whose mother sends him to his room without supper, calling him a "wild thing." Max makes an imaginary journey to a land of monsters, where he's crowned King of All Wild Things. But his longing for comfort and security return him at last to his room, where he finds his supper waiting for him. Some adults were dismayed by the book's ferocious-looking monsters and its belligerent young hero. "It is not a book to be left where a sensitive child may come upon it at twilight," one librarian cautioned.

Despite the warnings, Where the Wild Things Are was a huge commercial success, and was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1964. In his acceptance speech, Sendak seemed to address his critics when he said that despite adults' desires to protect children from "painful experiences," the fact is "that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, that fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, that they continually cope with frustration as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things."

In the following years, Sendak illustrated dozens of books, and wrote and illustrated several more of his own, including In the Night Kitchen (1970) and Outside Over There (1981), which he considered to be the second and third parts of a trilogy that began with Where the Wild Things Are. A lover of theatre, he has also designed and produced numerous operas, plays and ballets.

Though his work has sometimes been controversial, Sendak is now renowned for his ability to recall, depict and transform the painful realities of childhood into what John Gardner, reviewing one of Sendak's books, called "not an ordinary children's book done extraordinarily well, but something different in kind from an ordinary children's book: a profound work of art for children."

Good To Know

In 1948, Maurice Sendak and his brother Jack took six model toys to the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz, which they hoped would commission a set. The store turned down the toys, but offered Maurice a job as a window display designer, which he took.

Sendak wrote Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life, in tribute to his beloved dog. The book's protagonist, like Sendak's pet, is a Sealyham terrier named Jennie. Years later, Sendak got a German shepherd, who already had a name when he adopted it. The dog was named Max, just like Sendak's most famous character.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Maurice Bernard Sendak (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Ridgefield, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 10, 1928
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Art Students' League

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

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2003

    The Best Illustrations

    I'm a great fan of the Nutcracker ballet and was intruiged by the actual story that inspired it. Unfortunately it is not quite the charming fairy tale I had hoped it would be. It's rather dark and moody, quite unlike the fantasy and magic of the ballet, yet interesting nonetheless. I prefer this edition for Maurice Sendack's incredible illustrations, they are reason enough to purchase this book. To see them live visit the wonderful production of the Nutcracker Ballet put on by the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

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