In a fresh interpretation of E.T.A. Hoffman's tale, Merentseva and Spirn rely on the original work for inspiration, and the result is a more balanced retelling and broader focus, giving equal attention to all facets of the story, including the history of how a young boy was transformed into a wooden nutcracker. Other parts of the tale are satisfyingly familiar--the heroic battle between the toys and the dreaded mice, the enchanted land of the fairies, and the final duel between the young prince and the Mouse King. All is told in eloquent, flowing prose. Minnekaev's illustrations make a confection of every page, weaving vibrant colors and soft hues to fine effect. This exquisite tale will entrance yet another generation with visions of dancing fairies and valiant swordsmen.