The Nutcracker, but with guinea pigs.
A petite trim size befits the content of this photo-illustrated book (the sixth Guinea Pig Classic), most likely to appeal to the niche market of guinea-pig owners. Text that retells the story of the famous ballet is accompanied by Beresford’s photographs of costumed guinea pigs on small stages set with dollhouse furniture and props (costumes and props courtesy of Newall). As the narrative describes Clara looking at her presents, a photo shows a guinea pig clad in a white dress and blue hair ribbon approaching a tiny, potted Christmas tree. Various incongruities between text and art arise, such as when “the big clock strikes twelve,” with Clara dwarfing a small, sparkly grandfather clock. Later, the Mouse King, described as a “terrifying figure,” looks anything but. It’s odd that the term “fandango” is the only non-English word to receive a footnoted definition; perhaps child readers will have no difficulty negotiating “relevé”? The photos of the costumed guinea pigs aren’t edited to make them appear to dance, which results in rather redundant tableaux of the fluffy creatures, often staring vacantly, sometimes with mouths agape. The backmatter names each guinea pig (including two Dorises), credits the roles they played, and provides background information on the ballet as well as pet rescue centers.
Clearly a labor of love—and just as clearly limited in appeal. (Picture book. 4-7)