Kid Konnection: Nutcracker
Marie and her brother quickly tire of their Christmas gifts but Marie spies a nutcracker and becomes fascinated with it. She and her siblings take turns cracking nuts with it and, before you know it, it’s broken. Heartbroken, Marie bandages him and puts him to bed, promising him that her godfather, the clockmaker, will fix him.
That night, Marie dreams of a battle between a seven-headed Mouse King and her brother’s toy soldier’s (who are commanded by the nutcracker). She wakes up the next morning with her arm bandaged and tells her family of the battle. They all laugh at her but she’s sure it’s true.
Marie’s godfather tells her how the Nutcracker came to be. When the King set traps that killed the Mouse Queen’s children, she vowed revenge and she cast a spell on the King’s daughter. In trying to break the spell, a young man inadvertently cast it upon himself instead, giving him the appearance of a nutcracker.
In the meantime, the Mouse King demands candy from Maire to keep Nutcracker safe. Marie complies but Nutcracker finally asks for a sword to defend himself. He kills the Mouse King. Marie tells him if he were real, she would marry him no matter what he looks like, breaking the spell. The two eventually got married and Marie became a queen.
Through the years, I’ve heard plenty about the Nutcracker, after all it’s performed every holiday, but as far as I could remember, I’ve never read the book or seen the ballet, so I was happy to finally rectify that by reading Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman and translated by Ralph Manheim. I’m glad I read it but can’t say that it will become one of my favorites. The story was originally written in 1816 and that’s reflected in the language and setting of the book. I had to reread several passages to discern their meaning because the story is written in a very formal manner. I had to pay close attention to what I was reading to understand the plot.
This book is marketed as juvenile fiction but I’m not sure it will really appeal to kids because of the language and the complicated plot. All but the most mature young readers will need to experience this book with a parent to really understand it. If you read this as a child or have read it with a child, I’d love to know what you think.
The version of Nutcracker I read is beautifully illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The pictures in this book are stunningly gorgeous – seriously, these are pictures I would love to frame. If you want to own a copy of this book, this is the copy to buy.
For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.