THE NUTCRACKER

According to the introduction, the beloved Yuletide ballet that we see was based on a gentler version of the tale by Alexandre Dumas père. This version, which differs from the ballet in several ways, is based on Hoffmann’s 1816 original and tells a richer tale. Clara and Fritz are delighted with the Christmas gifts of their godfather Drosselmeier, especially the Nutcracker, which Clara cares for even after Fritz breaks its jaw. Clara encounters the Mouse King and his minions not once but twice in dreamlike sequences, and in between, she hears Drosselmeier’s stories of “the Hard Nut” and “Why the Nutcracker Is So Ugly.” Those intensify her resolve and add layers to the story. The gouache illustrations have a beautiful folktale dreaminess—echoes of Chagall here—as Paschkis borders center images with horror vacui designs in single bright colors. The figures are angular and exaggerated but wonderfully detailed. Paschkis plays with repetitive motifs and silhouetted patterns: Clara’s long braid regularly whips out of the picture plane. The accompanying CD by the London Symphony Orchestra contains excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s score. Unfortunately, there is no credit given for either the introduction or the retelling itself. (Picture book/folktale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8118-2962-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season.

HOW WINSTON DELIVERED CHRISTMAS

Neither snow nor rain nor mountains of yummy cheese stay the carrier of a letter to Santa.

So carelessly does 8-year-old Oliver stuff his very late letter to Santa into the mailbox that it falls out behind his back—leaving Winston, a “small, grubby white mouse” with an outsized heart, determined to deliver it personally though he has no idea where to go. Smith presents Winston’s Christmas Eve trek in 24 minichapters, each assigned a December “day” and all closing with both twists or cliffhangers and instructions (mostly verbal, unfortunately) for one or more holiday-themed recipes or craft projects. Though he veers occasionally into preciosity (Winston “tried to ignore the grumbling, rumbling noises coming from his tummy”), he also infuses his holiday tale with worthy values. Occasional snowy scenes have an Edwardian look appropriate to the general tone, with a white default in place but a few dark-skinned figures in view. Less-crafty children will struggle with the scantly illustrated projects, which run from paper snowflakes to clothespin dolls and Christmas crackers with or without “snaps,” but lyrics to chestnuts like “The 12 Days of Christmas” (and “Jingle Bells,” which is not a Christmas song, but never mind) at the end invite everyone to sing along.

A Christmas cozy, read straight or bit by bit through the season. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-983-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more