An unusual interpretation of a holiday classic, with memorable illustrations and the additional, helpful bonus of the...


From the Story Orchestra series

This lavishly illustrated interpretation of The Nutcracker includes embedded chips that play short excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s music for the ballet.

The plot of the beloved ballet is retold in 10 double-page spreads, with a button that triggers an audio clip integrated into each spread. The story opens with the Christmas party at Clara’s house, with a multicultural crowd of guests in old-fashioned party clothes. The familiar tale unfolds with the battle between the toy soldiers and mice, the journey to the Land of Sweets, and the return to reality with Clara asleep under the Christmas tree. The text blocks are skillfully integrated into the illustrations, with borders of candies, flowers, or branches surrounding the words. Vibrant, detailed illustrations are filled with magical trees, fantasy flowers, and opulent backgrounds for the different dances. Every scene includes dancers of multiple ethnicities, including a Sugar Plum Fairy with brown skin. Clara and the other main characters are white. The final pages include a biographical note about Tchaikovsky, a glossary of musical and ballet terms, and buttons for all 10 musical chips along with explanations of the relevance of each selection to the story. The recordings are brief and of notably high quality for the format. Adults preparing children for attending a performance of the ballet will find this edition helpful in explaining both the plot of the ballet and Tchaikovsky’s music.

An unusual interpretation of a holiday classic, with memorable illustrations and the additional, helpful bonus of the thematic music. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-068-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The feelings of community and togetherness are palpable.


When a snowstorm blows through town, it knocks out power and sends evening commuters scurrying for the safety and warmth of home.

But in the electricity-free night, one family turns the darkness into an opportunity to slow down and enjoy time together. This charming story follows the evening of an interracial family of four: a brown-skinned and dark-haired woman, little girl, and little boy, and a man presenting as white with light-colored skin and light hair. They have a candlelit picnic of Chinese takeout next to a blazing fireplace and decorated Christmas tree. The family enjoys the rest of the quiet snowy evening beneath a blanket fort in which they sleep together, cat and dog bundled in as well. The next morning, they and the rest of the community go out to play in the snow. The final spread in the book depicts the family’s cat and dog looking at the happy human tableau, now within the snow globe, which reads “Peace on Earth.” The muted colors, simple, childlike renderings, and happy characters make this book about a snowstorm feel warm and cozy—think hygge in picture-book form. Aside from the star-topped, decorated tree and the “Peace on Earth” message, often associated with Christmas, there are no religious symbols used in the book.

The feelings of community and togetherness are palpable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-53411-031-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.


From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet