The Nutcracker in Book Form


It's that time of year again!  Time for ballet companies all over the world to put on their annual productions of The Nutcracker.  The colorful costumes, the beautiful dancing, the famous Tchaikovsky score...  Well, I love all things related to The Nutcracker.  Cases in point:  my Nutcracker board on Pinterest and my most-viewed post on this blog of all time.

For the second year in a row, our elementary school took an all-school field trip to see the abridged school performance of the ballet downtown.  Our school is a performing arts magnet, and the girls' school dance teacher was dancing in the production again.  This year, she performed the Arabian pas de deux.  The kids loved it.  The girls know a lot of people in the production, which makes it pretty special.  But Mom wanted to see the ballet, too, so another trip was made downtown to see the full ballet, Saturday night.

As we always seem to do before a special event, at home, we pulled out books.

The Nutcracker first appeared in a story called "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," written in 1816 by E.T.A. Hoffmann.  If you are unfamiliar with the original story, please read the Wikipedia synopsis I linked to above, or here is the whole text.  Alexandre Dumas published a revision the story in 1844.  It was the revision that inspired the ballet in 1892.

We own a few (now out-of-print) bargain books, and we hit the library for a few new books.  I thought I would share some of the examples out there.  I will be honest, I haven't read or seen all of these in person, but I would love to go through them all.  These books are either still in print or so recently out-of-print, they can easily be obtained.  There are some wonderful less traditional versions out there, but I stuck with the versions featuring human characters, based on the familiar story.

For adults, teenagers, and precocious older children, give the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story a try. Compare it to the Alexandre Dumas version.  

From left to right:  Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman & The Tale of the Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas.  Penguin Classics, 2007.    The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrated by Gail DeMarcken.  Orchard Books, 2009.  The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  Crown, 2012 (reprint).

Or just curl up with a little one and a beautiful picture book adaptation.  Some of these favor the Hoffmann version, some the Dumas, and some follow the ballet in its simplest story form.

Top (left to right): The Nutcracker, based on the Balanchine ballet, illustrated by Alison Jay.  Dial, 2010.  Mary Engelbreit's Nutcracker by Mary Engelbreit.  HarperCollins, 2011.
Bottom (left to right):  The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin.  Scholastic, Inc., 2002.  The Nutcracker by Michael Hague.  Chronicle Books, 2003.  The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers.  HarperCollins, 2007.

Share the gorgeous Tchaikovsky music with a young one!  Some books come with CDs...

From left to right:  The Nutcracker, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.  Chronicle, 2001.  The Nutcracker, retold by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Peter Malone.  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008.  The Nutcracker, adapted by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Renee Graef.  HarperCollins, 1999.

And surprise! - The Nutcracker lends itself to some lovely "tricks," like lift-the-flaps, moving die-cuts, and fold-out pages that recreate the magic of the ballet.

From left to right:  The Nutcracker by Patrick Regan, illustrated by Natasha Kuricheva.  Andrews McMeel, 2012.  The Nutcracker: A Magic Theater Book by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Kristina Swarner.  Chronicle, 2012.  The Nutcracker Ballet: A Book, Theater, and Paper Doll Fold-Out Play Set by Mara Conlon.  Peter Pauper Press, 2008.


Follow along with Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes on FacebookBloglovinInstagram, and/or Pinterest!

Comments

  1. Wonderful post!!! I have to get myself some of those books with CD! The beautiful music is after all the reason why this story became so popular! I love your collage btw! (Still don't know how to make one!) How was the ballet night?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saturday, Little Sis wouldn't stop whining and grumbling about walking around Lindsborg, then decided she really didn't want to go to The Nutcracker that evening. Finally, she stayed home with my grandma, and Big Sis and I had a lovely evening. She wore her Christmas dress, and after the ballet, we went to the gathering area where the dancers come out so she could say hi to people she knew. We had a wonderful time. :)

      Picmonkey.com. You can make free collages. :)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the link! You are lucky to have grandma so she can watch your kids!

      Delete
  2. we have the Alison Jay version from the library, it's lovely! I'm profiling it tomorrow! this is an amazing collection you've got here -- an Alexandre Dumas version???? Oh I gotta read that!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our library doesn't have that one, so I'm looking forward to seeing yours! We checked out an illustrated version of the Dumas story from the '70s (very, very out-of-print). It's basically a simplified version of the original Hoffmann. It's perhaps a little sweeter, too, which is probably why it was used as the original basis for the ballet. :)

      Delete
  3. I'm pinning this. I adore the Nutcracker. My father use to take me each Christmas to the ballet. I can't wait to start the tradition with my kiddo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember going on field trips to see the shortened school version when I was a kid. I always loved it. I was a theatre major in college, and a lot of my friends were dance majors, so I would go see the full ballet downtown, in order to support them. One of the other universities in town does a full production as well, with guests from the NYC Ballet. I saw Wendy Whelan dance the Sugar Plum Fairy there a couple of times. I'm considering taking Big Sis to theirs next weekend, if we can swing it. Never too much Nutcracker!!! :)

      Delete
  4. Amazing post, thank you! We have Mary Engelbreit's but I already have Maurice Sendak and Renee Graef's on my wish list. I was thinking maybe we can get one new nutcracker book each year.. :)
    Oh they all look amazing!
    Great that you got to see the ballet! I was in the Arabian dance a few years ago too when I was still in ballet school -the funny thing is we did the Nutcracker performance in June!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, how wonderful! One of my best friends in college danced Arabian. Now she co-directs the rehearsals for the company and plays one of the party parents. She was actually Big Sis's ballet teacher last year. I love the Arabian.

    June, huh? I guess it's one way to cool off, thinking about Christmas! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't even own a single book about the Nutcracker! Oh man. I must remedy that. My sister was part of a ballet company for years so I always used to see it every Christmas season. I haven't for a while now. Next year Kit will be old enough to take. :) I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww! And after you take her, we want to hear all about what she thought of it! Xoxo

      Delete

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome! I'm a shy blog commenter, too, but I do love to read what people have to say. All I ask is, please be kind, to me and to each other.