Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nutcracker; E.T.A. Hoffmann, Maurice Sendak

Title:  Nutcracker
Author:  E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Edition: hardcover
Source: sent by publisher
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

This is a beautiful reissued edition  of the Nutcracker, (Crown Publishing - October 2012) of the timeless story by E.T.A. Hoffman, originally written in 1816 is truly a beautiful book.  It's release is perfect timing for 2012 gift giving.

Although most of us have read or at least had someone read the Nutcracker to us at some point in our lives,  it's always a treat to revisit the story around the holidays. I also love the way the ballet has brought this story to life in new ways at this time of year, and will never forget my experience seeing it on the New York stage with my own children and as an adult.

Rather than detail the story yet again when it's so familiar to many, I'll just say the story is about a young girl  around the age of seven, who grows attached to a somewhat ugly looking nutcracker that the family received on Christmas Eve from an uncle. When her slightly older brother breaks the jaw of the nutcracker, the girl is saddened. She puts the nutcracker to bed on Christmas Eve, but not before trying to repair it.  That night strange things happen and the nutcracker seems to come alive in her room.  It's not all dancing sugar plum fairies and beautiful magic though, as there is some darkness related in part to some evil mice in this story.
There is also another tale called, The Story of the Hard Nut, which give the reader the background story of the Nutcracker and the mice. Although the story is timeless and does have a happy ending, it isn't a story for very very young children, in my opinion.  But what does make this book special is the colorful and awesome illustrations created by Maurice Sendak in 1984; Sendak passed away in 2012. A minor problem for me was that not every illustration was inserted to flow along with the text on the particular page it is found. However, the illustrations are stunning all the same (classic Sendak) and would make for good conversation when cuddled up with a child.  The translation by Ralph Manheim for the original German version is extremely well done. This one is a keeper for the holiday collection.

Thanks to Crown for providing me with a copy.


  1. I have not read Nutcracker till date. I really need to read this and I am sure Aarya would love it too.

  2. I loved this also. It was interesting how much emphasis was put on the Nutcracker's looks!

  3. Beautiful book and glad that you had the opportunity to read/review it for us. I'm sure your granddaughter will love it!

  4. I loved every second I spent with this book.

  5. They made this into a movie with the Portland Ballet Company (I think). We watched it this past weekend in fact. I agree that it really is much darker than the original story and definitely not for younger children. I wasn't quite prepared for the changes made to the story; my daughter was highly upset that the Prince does not take Clara to Candyland. I still enjoyed the music but missed the more lighthearted version I had grown up with.


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