The Nutcracker is a classic holiday tale that is sure to hold a special place in your child's heart. Since it was written by E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816, the story has inspired artists, composers, dancers and audiences. And not to be outdone by previous artists, Maurice Sendak, managed to put a spell on readers in this magical story. If that name sounds familiar, it might be because he is the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are.
Maurice Sendak is quite familiar with the Nutcracker, having designed beautiful sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwests Ballet's Christmas production. During his research for his work, he discovered that the true tale of the Nutcracker differed greatly from the stage version. He had a desire to share Hoffmann's the missing subplot in the story, The Story of the Hard Nut. When he set out to write the book, he decided to completely illustrate The Story of the Hard Nut in the book. The translation of the story by Ralph Manheim is brought more fully to life in this version as well. Sedak has succeeded in capturing the true enchanting tale in a children's version of this story.
This book is a beautiful version of the Nutcracker. The hardback copy measures just over 10" by 10" with a beautiful heavy weight cover. The book itself is bound in a navy blue cover with '"NUTCRACKER" embossed in silver on front. The pages are a creamy white thick card stock with a rich feel. The illustrations are charming and draw children into the story. Every one of the 99 pages has at least one illustration.
The story line is laced with the familiarity I have from the ballet. But the book delves into the Story of the Hard Nut and readers venture into a tale that they have never before heard. A tale that explores the how the Nutcracker came to be and the background story of the battle with the mice.
This book is truly delightful and a true holiday treasure. As it is long, this is not a quick read, but one that could be read bit by bit throughout the holiday season. It is definitely a classic book that every family should own. I think children as young as 4-5 would enjoy having this story read to them and children up to age 12-13 or older would enjoy reading the story on their own. At the regular price of $24.99, this would be an excellent present to give to the whole family. But guess what? Amazon has it for just $14.19 today, so hurry and order your copy!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. As always, this review contains my honest opinion.