A Christmas Eve performance of The Nutcracker ballet runs amok with multiple mishaps but is saved in the nick of time by the arrival on set of Santa Claus and his elves.
The familiar rhyme and rhythm of “The Night Before Christmas” serve as the structure for this clever melding of two beloved holiday stories. An all-child cast is about to perform The Nutcracker, but the day of the performance is filled with mishaps, from torn tutus to sick stagehands to a broken nutcracker. Santa and the elves fix everything and even lend the sleigh and reindeer to the Sugarplum Fairy to use in the performance. The play is performed on Christmas Eve, and Santa steps on stage during curtain calls for “a rollicking round of applause.” Large-format illustrations with a double-spread format and horizontal orientation ably capture the backstage and onstage scenes. The multiethnic children who make up the cast seem a little too young to be putting on The Nutcracker, but the roly-poly kids are undeniably cute in their mouse and flower costumes. Two final pages include a plot summary of The Nutcracker and a glossary of ballet terms.
This adroit amalgamation of two beloved Christmas stories will be best appreciated by children already familiar with both tales rather than as an introduction to The Nutcracker ballet. (Picture book. 4-7)