Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Rating: out of 5
This book was given for free, courtesy by NetGalley.
The descendants of Klara Stahlbaum come together on Christmas in 1908. Young Marie learns about the legend of “The Hard Nut” and its affect on Frederick and the Rat Queen. She can’t help but be entranced by the story. Then, Marie finds her great-great-grandmother’s, Klara’s, journal. Almost immediately, she is whisked away into the same world that Klara once experienced.
What I loved about this retelling of The Nutcracker were the illustrations. They brightened the book and were very welcoming. I especially loved the pages filled with the varying dancers. Reading this children’s book reminded me so much of the play version and it made me smile. I especially loved that when recounting the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, it was quick and didn’t go into the gory details the original has. This makes the read more children-friendly.
There are few things I questioned here, though. Why is Godfather Drosselmeier still Godfather Drosselmeier? Are we to believe this is the same man or was his name handed down for a few generations? Also, why was the ending basically the same as the original The Nutcracker? I thought the curse of the Nutcracker was broken and he married Klara. Unless the story was insinuating the curse was never broken until now? This was confusing.
The other aspect that I think could have better was the transitioning from one scene to the next. We went from Christmas 1908, to the legend of “The Hard Nut”, to a dream sequence, then back to Christmas 1908 very abruptly. I can see the choppiness confusing children trying to decipher which is the present and which is the dream. It’ll already be difficult trying to explain the meaning of a legend and how it ties in with the story that the transition from the present to the dream sequence could be better.
Overall, this was a nicely illustrated children’s book that captures the Christmas spirit, but just needs some work with its plot flow.