The enduring magic of E.T.A. Hoffman’s holiday story is captured in this innovative interpretation, which offers enchanting illustrations and a skillfully retold story.
A midnight blue, snowflake-dusted cover features a circular die cut that showcases the character of Marie within, holding her nutcracker toy. As the cover is opened, the figure of Marie slides back and a larger figure of the Nutcracker Prince slides into the opening. Subsequent spreads show other characters such as the Nutcracker and the Mouse King springing into battle or the swan boat floating into the clouds. Rather than pop-up elements, the moving pieces here slide into the central opening like characters in a play moving into view, and this sense of motion and surprise adds greatly to the book’s appeal. Masterful paper engineering includes glimpses through the central die cut to the illustrations ahead or behind, providing extra dimension. McCaughrean’s lyrical retelling of the story introduces readers to the story that the Tchaikovsky ballet is based on, using Hoffman’s names, explaining why the Nutcracker Prince was under a spell, and introducing his father, the king of the Land of Sweets, and their connection to Professor Drosselmeier.
This innovative Nutcracker has a magical appeal all its own. (Picture book. 4-8)