John Cech’s telling of The Nutcracker is absolutely brilliant. This version focuses on the first night Marie receives the Nutcracker as a present from her Godfather Drosselmeier. It also incorporates how the Nutcracker came to be under the curse of the Mouse Queen. Though parts of the story are shortened to fit this picture book format, this is a wonderful version of this holiday, childhood favorite.
When Marie discovers the Nutcracker, she becomes intrigued by him. Her brother, on the other hand, is excited and reckless with him, causing him to break. Marie wraps a bandage around the Nutcracker’s jaw and tends to his injuries. As the festivities wind down and it is time for bed, Marie asks her mom to allow her to stay up a little later. The house grows quiet around Marie and hundreds of mice appear from all over and the toys, led by the Nutcracker, come to her defense.
The illustrations by Eric Puybaret convey the action and the drama of the scenes in a gorgeous way. Each illustration uses space in a way that mimics the stage, with characters occupying different layers of depth.
The Nutcracker is ideal for older kids, ages 7 and up, because there is a lot of text and the story itself is long. It can be read aloud over a couple of different sessions leading up to the holidays or any other time of year a young one wants to listen to the magical tale.
What is your favorite version of The Nutcracker?