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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

NutcrackerandtheMouse King_bookcoverWritten in 1816, E.T.A Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King has been a seasonal favorite for years.  In a new edition from Scholastic, illustrator Gail de Marcken imagines her vision of the nutcracker’s world.  The result is a lovingly rendered and intricate version of the classic story. Each page, even the borders are so carefully detailed.   Atop each page, animals, dolls and other figures cast in bronze cavort all along the pages’ edges.  The images range from full-scale “battle” scenes to whimsical dancing numbers of a variety of toys, and each one will capture a reader’s eye.

Before reading The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, I was only familiar with the ballet and abridged versions of the tale.  The book opens with an introduction from Wren Maysen, who adapted the story for young audiences.   In it, the reader learns a little about the Nutcracker background, such as the characters were inspired by Hoffman’s own famiNutcracker and the Mouse King spread 3ly and friends and that Hoffman wrote himself into the story as the Godfather Drosselmeier.

The book is fairly large, and the pages radiate with color and imagination, making this is a good read-a-loud candidate. But as The Children’s Book Review points out,  the book has a lot of text, and would probably best be stretched over the period of several nights.  Nevertheless, this edition of the Christmas classic will grab readers’ attention.

Publisher Summary:  On Christmas Eve, Godfather Drosselmeier has arrived with gifts of marvel and enchantment for his young godchildren.  Goddaughter Marie falls in love a bewitching nutcracker doll and claims him as her own.  Yet when the clock strikes midnight, something terribly amazing happens to Godfather’s handcrafted toys…they come alive.  Marie is swept off her feet on an incredible journey with the Nutcracker in this astonishing classic story by E.T.A. Hoffman.  Critically acclaimed artist Gail de Marcken’s stunning illustrations bring this spellbinding tale to life.

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
Author: E.T.A. Hoffman (Illus. by Gail de Marcken)
Date: September 2009
Publisher: Orchard Books (an imprint of Scholastic)
Pages: 56
Format: Hardback

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