Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Fall 2009 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
Illustrator: Eric Puybaret
Told By: John Cech
ISBN: 9781402755620
Hardcover Price: $17.95
John Cech's new picture book is another retelling of a perennial holiday classic, originally written by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann and the subject of countless ballet performances each Christmas. The premise is now familiar: Marie (Clara in some versions) is given a nutcracker for Christmas by her godfather; at night the nutcracker and other toys come to life and battle an army of mice. Marie helps win the battle, then sails off to the magical Land of Sweets to celebrate with her nutcracker. Like many fairy tales, Hoffmann's original story includes darker elements that the Tchaikovsky ballet (and most children's book versions) leaves out. Cech includes these other plot points, such as the backstory of Nutcracker's character, but he does so on a more family-friendly level.

The acrylic-on-linen illustrations by Eric Puybaret glow in shades of red, gold and deep blue. The text is a bit long and dense for a read-aloud with younger children, but it will prove interesting to older readers who are already somewhat familiar with the story.

Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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