Published by Crown Publishing
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound
"A classic, new and complete. One of the ten best illustrated children's books of the year."
-- New York Times Book Review
The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.
Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of Nutcracker and created even more magnificent pictures especially for this book. He joined with the eminent translator Ralph Manheim to produce this illustrated edition of Hoffmann's wonderful tale, destined to become a classic for all ages.
The world of Nutcracker is a world of pleasures. Maurice Sendak's art illuminates the delights of Hoffmann's story in this rich and tantalizing treasure.
I went to the Nutcracker Ballet every year as a little girl. It was such a tradition I can't remember not going, but at some point I stopped going. I don't remember how old I was, maybe when I stopped believing in Santa? Maybe later. But schools used to go on field trips to see it I remember. It was A BIG DEAL! And I haven't seen it since I was a little girl. But I vaguely remembered bits and pieces of it. A girl in a white dress. A soldier, a battle, a rat soldier. All of it was kind of way back in my mind.
I started with the Prologue for The Nutcracker written by Maurice Sendak in 1984. He dug up the original story of the Nutcracker written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. It was then translated by Ralph Manheim and a whole subplot "The Story of the Hard Nut" was discovered that had never been performed in the ballet. So not only did I get to rekindle my memories of the ballet I remembered, but an entirely new fairytale was revealed to me. And you know how when you read a book, it's always better than the movie?
The same is true for watching a ballet and reading the book. You can read the intentions and feelings, what everything looks like in detail, whereas on a stage you might miss something because you're too far away. So, as always, I liked the book better. I always will.
It starts off right away with a beautifully written story, somewhat dark, set in the past with the Christ Child bringing their presents. And they are very good children indeed as they get many presents. The tree is described in great detail and so beautifully, I want to decorate mine like that. And then Marie finds the Nutcracker and falls in love with it. But she's told she has to share The Nutcracker and her brother Fritz breaks him. All is better when she is given the Nutcracker to care for and she wraps him in her handkerchief. She is besotted with him.
Now you may or may not know the story from there but the King of the Mice wages a battle against the Nutcracker and Marie and her brother's soldiers. Marie is wounded and her Godfather comes to tell her a story, "The Story of the Hard Nut," which he tells her over three consecutive nights and repairs the Nutcracker. "The Story of the Hard Nut" explains why the King of the Mice and the Nutcracker are fighting in the first place, a long history between the two families, err mice and man. It greatly adds to the story and I'm sorry it's been left out for so long.
I always remembered that Clara was the center of the romance in The Nutcracker, but it is dear sweet Marie and her steadfast love of the ugly Nutcracker that brings the story to it's end. She is laughed at by her family as she tells of her journey with The Nutcracker to Marzipan Castle where he is King. She's not allowed to mention it again for fear of her father throwing The Nutcracker and all her other dolls out as well. But all is well in the end.
The pictures are...they are Maurice Sendak. There are a few monsters from Where the Wild Things Are peeking out from behind things. They are as descriptive as a picture can be. I've always loved Maurice Sendak's work and it works so well in this story with the King of the Mice and the Nutcracker especially.
I highly recommend adding this to your Christmas collection. I loved the ending!!
If you'd like to see a few of the pictures from the book you can click HERE and check them out. Clicking on each picture will bring up a larger picture and a description of what's happening in the scene.
Thanks to Danielle at Crown Publishing, she's offering one hardback copy to giveaway to a US winner.
Just in time for Christmas. You know the drill, fill out the rafflecopter form! Thanks!