Reviews for Nutcracker

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The transformation of the venerable Nutcracker ballet begun by Sendak and choreographer Kent Stowell for the 1983 Pacific Northwest Ballet production is carried through, in this volume, with Ralph Manheim's translation of the original Hoffmann story, ""The Nutcracker and the Mouse King""--including its central tale-within-a-tale, ""The Story of the Hard Nut."" Psychoanalytically-aware adults have long recognized the erotic symbolization of elderly Godfather Drosselmeier, prepubescent Clara (here Marie), and ""the Nutcracker."" But the ballet has no apparent dramatic shape--consisting in essence of one pantomime scene (the Christmas Eve party at the Stahlbaums) and two scenes of almost pure dancing (Clara/Marie's magical journey and the delights of Candytown). And children's books of The Nutcracker have been ""the story of the ballet."" Integrating Sendak's designs for the scenery and costumes, the present work retains the sense of a theatrical production--but not of a spectacle or delectation. ""The Story of the Hard Nut,"" which Drosselmaier tells Marie after the Mouse King's defeat of Nutcracker's army (from the Nutcracker's advent, all darkly shaded), features the transformation of infant Princess Pirlipat into a hideous nutcracker baby--a Sendakian theme-of-themes--who can be restored to herself only by eating the kernel of the hard nut Krakakut, which can only be cracked by an unshaven youth; and the last-minute crimp in this process, by vengeful Madame Mouserinks, sets the stage for the main-plot annihilation of the Mouse King, the restoral of the Nutcracker to his youthful, unshaven self, and his betrothal to Marie. Some wordless pictorial pages carry the major ballet passages; but most of the illustrations consist of marginal drawings. It is perhaps better so: the one full-page depiction of a dramatic scene in ""The Story of a Hard Nut"" looks paste-boardy, more ludicrous than horrifying. (In vapid, naturalistic color, Sendak always loses force.) Elsewhere the pictorial matter helps to bring out the many facets and dimensions of the story, and its stage associations--but, to everyone's credit, the story takes precedence here. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fiction: PB In pop-up versions of two classics, the narratives and illustrations are mediocre renderings. A poor introduction to these holiday favorites. Horn Rating: Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality. Reviewed by: sl (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Familiar in part because it forms the basis of the famous ballet, Hoffmann's tale ""The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"" is actually quite different from the ballet. The original story is a mysterious, powerful, and slightly grotesque tale. Some of the illustrations, spectacular and remarkably effective, are taken from Sendak's stage settings for the ballet. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In an elegant, oversize edition of Hoffmann's Christmas story, Marie's nutcracker doll comes to life and Marie helps to transform him into a handsome prince. The flowery prose of the original text is much more complex than will be expected by children used to the ballet. Innocenti's surreal paintings emphasize the nightmarish aspects of the fantasy. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This cloth bound edition of the classic story about a young girl who receives an extraordinary nutcracker for Christmas features pages bordered by ample margins and large, handsome illustrations. The art ably captures the story's setting, and its varied perspectives add drama to the tale. A toy soldier dangles from the end of the ribbon page marker. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Devotees of the ballet version may be surprised by the layers of fantasy and reality in this skillful distillation of the much longer original story. Zwerger's elegant full-page watercolors capture the tone of the story, and her uncluttered compositions focus on specific characters and objects, rewarding the careful observer with details that foreshadow and illuminate the multifaceted story. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Devotees of the ballet version may be surprised by the layers of fantasy and reality in this skillful distillation of the much longer original story. Zwerger's elegant full-page watercolors capture the tone of the story, and her uncluttered compositions focus on specific characters and objects, rewarding the careful observer with details that foreshadow and illuminate the multifaceted story. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fiction: F Age: K-3 Hoffman's traditional Christmas story, as retold in this elaborate, gaudy pop-up book, has lost its magic and imagination. The text is banal; the paper engineering is impressive but not sturdy and, in one case, defective. Horn Rating: Unacceptable in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: mvk (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Although the background information offered in sidebars and a few double-page spreads--in the series style, with many captioned photographs and pictures--helps establish a context for the classic story, the unattractive artwork detracts from the presentation. The garish colors will not draw children to the fantastic tale about Marie+s adventures with the Christmas Nutcracker. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Part E. T. A. Hoffmann, part Pepita-Tchaikovsky; and as distilled, a good story and the best available introduction to the ballet. The telling is not particularly inspired (""But strange as he was to behold, he was a delightful godfather""), but the adaptation is intelligent, suppressing detail and description in favor of dialogue and narrative exposition. In that respect, it's clearly superior to Daniel Walden's 1959 Nutcracker, which hews all-too-closely to the particulars of the stage performance. And Schulman also inserts the story behind the battle between the Nutcracker and the King of Mice--which then leads us beyond the ballet to the appearance of young Drosselmeir, Maria's godfather's nephew, as her Nutcracker-suitor. The story thus becomes a full-fledged romantic tale, not a fairy-tale interlude; and, without sentimentality, lays siege to the reader's emotions. The illustrations mediate somewhat less successfully between fantasy and feeling; but Chorao's hyperthyroid kids are at least toned down, and the muted pencil drawings are sufficiently discreet as to cause no offense. The text, however, calls up the ballet's scenes without reference to the pictures. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.