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by E.T.A. Hoffman and adapted by John Cech & illustrated by Eric Puybaret

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4027-5562-0
Publisher: Sterling

Cech’s adaptation of the holiday classic is based on Hoffman’s original rather than on the later ballet. Although the story has been shortened, it is still too lengthy for most children, and some spreads have just text and no illustrations. Puybaret’s acrylic paintings show an art deco influence, and the muted colors, shadowy atmosphere and subdued expressions on the characters’ faces (as well as the army of mice slinking out of the darkness) give the illustrations a nightmarish rather than dreamlike quality. The characters are like puppets: Marie is a sad blond girl who smiles only on the cover illustration, and the Nutcracker is still a wooden figure even after he has come to life. Shorter and more cheerful versions of the story are more appropriate for the season and for today’s young readers. (Picture book. 6-9)