12 Days of Holiday Books: The Nutcracker

December 13, 2013

The NutcrackerTchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and its music are now a holiday staples, as is the story of young Marie* and her adventures with the Nutcracker Prince. There are plenty of children's books out there that retell the magical story of the Nutcracker, but our favorite so far has to be writer/illustrator Susan Jeffers' version (40 pages, HarperCollins, 2007).

The book's text efficiently condenses the tale into a story suitable for younger children. Jeffers keeps the action moving but manages to leave in most of the relevant episodes from the ballet. Her watercolor illustrations are perhaps the loveliest thing about this book: colorful, vibrant, and full of action, they really help give the feeling of the ballet's movement and choreography.

It's a great introduction to The Nutcracker story and ballet, and definitely a must-read if you and your kids are planning on seeing a production of the ballet this holiday season. Find it at your local library, bookstore, or Amazon.com.

*In Tchaikovsky's ballet, the young heroine of the story is named Clara, but in this version of the story, her name is Marie, as in E.T.A. Hoffmann's original Nutcracker fairy tale from the early 19th century.