Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: Nutcracker, by E.T.A. Hoffmann, translated by Ralph Manheim, & illustrated by Maurice Sendak

What a cute book Nutcracker is. I was unfamiliar with the story, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about this weird little tale.

It is weird. I've never seen the ballet, or read or heard this entire story. It's kind of complex. The little girl, Marie, gets a nutcracker for Christmas, and she becomes attached to him. He comes alive, and there's a big battle in her bedroom, involving all her dolls and her brother's hussars.

Godfather Drosselmeier tells her a story about a princess, who gets cursed by a mouse queen, and becomes ugly. The only way she can be released from the curse is to find a boy who can crack the Krakatuk -- a very hard nut, and this man must not wear boots and be unshaven. After many years they find the man, they are so happy they promise him the princess' hand in marriage.  He cracks the nut, but then is cursed by the mouse queen and becomes an ugly nutcracker. So the princess doesn't want to marry him.

Long story short, Marie ends up saving the nutcracker. He takes her to a beautiful world made of candy and sweets  And there's more, but I won't tell you everything.

It's an "enchanting" tale, of magic, beauty, and some horror too! There's blood. And evil mice.

I can't talk about this book without talking about Maurice Sendak's illustrations, which are very creative and captivating, although he did take some license with the descriptions in the story. The illustrations don't always match, but they are beautiful and definitely look like Sendak's work. There may even be a little homage to Where the Wild Things Are, but I'll let you find that.

Nutcracker would be a great book to add to your collection of children's Christmas books. You have one of those, don't you? Even though my children are all grown up, we still read some of them every Christmas. I've even featured one of MY childhood Christmas books in one of my Monday Memories posts. Pick up a copy of Nutcracker if you get a chance -- if nothing else, just look at the pictures.

Published by Crown, October 30, 2012
Review copy obtained from the publisher
102 pages

And, even better, I'm allowed to offer one copy from Crown Publishers to giveaway to a lucky reader! Just fill in the form below by November 16, and you are entered!

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