Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

Susan Jeffers
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
HarperCollins, 2007   ISBN: 978-0060743864

It was Christmas Eve and the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, were waiting at the ballroom door for the party to begin. Later the party was well under way when Marie's Godfather, Herr Drosselmeier, arrived. Herr Drosselmeier was a famous toy maker and he brought presents for all the children at the party. One of the presents that he brought Marie was a wooden Nutcracker. Jealous that Marie had received three gifts, Fritz grabbed the Nutcracker and tossed him in the air. The wooden man fell to the floor and his head broke. Marie did her best to care for her poor nutcracker and later, when the party was all over and when the guests had gone home, feeling sorry for her toy, she went to sleep by him where he lay under the Christmas tree.

While she slept her godfather cast a spell on Marie and when she woke up she discovered that the Christmas tree was huge and that she and the Nutcracker were being attacked by a wicked Mouse King who had seven heads. Courageously Marie faced the Mouse King and threw her slipper at him when the Nutcracker and the toy soldiers looked as if they were losing the battle. The Mouse King feel senseless and the Nutcracker was transformed into a handsome prince.

The Prince then took Marie to visit the Land of Sweets where she watched all kinds of wonderful dances and where she was the guest of honor. It was a splendid visit but all too soon it had to come to an end and when Marie woke up the Prince was gone and the Nutcracker was back in his place. Marie heartily wished that the prince would return. She knew that she wanted him back even if he looked like an ungainly nutcracker. When she said these words something remarkable happened.

In this beautifully illustrated book Susan Jeffers tells the story of the Nutcracker that is based on E.T.A Hoffman?s original tale. It is the story of the ballet and because it the story of the ballet Jeffers includes pictures of lovely ballet dancers in her artwork. They are so perfectly suited to the magical world of the Land of Sweets that one is not at all surprised to see them there, gliding across the pages in their lovely costumes.