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on June 10, 1997
This book was a gift to my family when I was a child - I loved it then, and enjoy it more every time I re-read. The story is more than just the plot for a ballet. There is a lot of background, description, and insight included, and they do a lot to make the book fantastic. What elevates this work to magnificent is the artwork done by Sendak. It is lush, detailed, and beautiful. I can't say enough about the quality of this book, and urge everyone to find their own copy. This is not just a Christmas story, but a wonderful parable for every season
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on September 22, 2004
This book is beautiful! I received the first edition as a Christmas gift as a child. I cherished it, reading it over and over again. Sendak's illustrations and Hoffman's engaging story are still vivid in my memory. I bought two copies of this re-issue, one for my 3-year-old son and one for my 4-year-old niece. This is what all children's books should aspire to. A wonderful gift for any child.
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on November 9, 2012
As a little girl completely mesmerized by the Nutcracker ballet, I could not pass up the opportunity to read the actual story by E.T.A. Hoffman. Translated by Ralph Manheim into this beautifully illustrated edition, I didn't realize what a treat I was in store for. Delightful, delightful! I felt like a little girl again! All the magic of Christmas just pours out of the pages! The illustrator (who also illustrated Where the Wild Things Are) creates the most quaint and intricate scenes. What a legacy he has left behind.

I would chunk the book into three sections-the first being the familiar Act I of the Nutcracker ballet, with all the characters and general storyline similar to the well-known tale, but with charming details that cannot be expressed without words.

The second section is a new story that Drosselmeier tells, "The Story of the Hard Nut", which I thought was just delightful. I found myself chuckling through the whole thing! It tells the tale of how the Nutcracker began to be, and the background story behind the battle between him and the mice.

The third portion picks up with the familiar storyline of Act II, just as mystical in word as the dances and costumes of the Nutcracker ballet.

Because this book is somewhat lengthy for young children (it is, after all, more than 100 pages long), I would probably recommend it to be read over several nights to children with short attention spans under the age of seven. Children above eight years old will love this quick and humorous read, and adults will be so entertained reading this to their children or grandchildren. I think it appeals to little boys and girls alike, with Marie as the heroine, and her brother Fritze a leading man.

The cheeky pictures are so coordinated with the quirky text, that this book is such a perfect package of wonder! A most perfect Christmas gift! I will absolutely be pulling this book out every Christmas!

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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on December 30, 2006
When I was a child I had this book , as well as two audio tape versions of the story. ( one read by Claire Bloom, the other by Christopher Plummer, both are great!) If you go to see the ballet without knowing the backstory it doesn't make much sense.

I also totally disagree that the book ( and the audio versions for that matter) are only good for older children and adults. While the language may be more complex than some story books there is no reason why a young child can't understand it. If parents expose their children to more sophisticated language then they learn it. Toomany books, cds, tv shows etc... talk down to children! If a child is never exposed to language then they can't learn it. My mother and father never talked down or baby talked to me, and exposed me to a wide variety of books, when I was 2 I said "I presume...." in answer to a question my mother asked me. LOL :-)

Just a though.
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on December 26, 2005
My daughter loves the Nutcracker ballet and I thought it would be good for her to know the full story behind it (I had never heard it myself). The previous reviews and comments on the beautiful illustrations led me to believe this would be a great choice for my 5 year old daughter.

The illustrations are very similar in style to those in Where the Wild Things Are. If you don't like that book, you won't like the illustrations in this one. Also be aware that this is NOT a picture book. There is a very high ratio of text to illustrations.

I also feel the text is inappropriate for young children. The actual story is very dark and the language, while beautiful, is above the vocabulary and experience of most young children. ( "These intrepid and magnificently uniformed troops, consisting of gardeners, Tyroleans, Tunguses, barbers, harlequins, cupids, lions, and tigers, and monkeys, fought with coolness, courage, and perseverance. With their Spartan bravery, this elite regiment would have wrested the victory from the enemy, had not a daring mouse captain leaped into the fray and bitten the head off one of the Chinese emperors, who in falling crushed two Tunguses and a monkey." p32)

I WOULD recommend this book for older children.
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on December 10, 2001
Maurice Sendak's fabulous sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker are as much a beloved childhood memory for many of us in the Northwest as his well-known illustrations for Where the Wild Things Are. So when I saw this version of the Nutcracker with his illustrations, I simply had to have it. It does not disappoint! I read through it again and again, enchanted by the beautifully detailed full-page scenes and the charming characters dancing all around the text. And if you're only familiar with the ballet and have never read the original story, you'll be as amazed as I was at just how much more there is to the tale. Whether you're a fan of Sendak, the ballet, or just good children's fairy tales, this book is well worth the price.
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on December 13, 2015
I bought this edition for my 9-year-old granddaughter, Maia, to read before we are to go to the ballet. She is bright (aren't all our grandchildren?) but I honestly think this book may be a little advanced. It's a little complex and the story gets muddied but I will give it to her anyway with hopes if she can't get through it now, she will soon. I also would have liked to see more illustrations strategically placed with the text. I considered returning the book and getting another but I may not be fully aware of her reading ability and would like to challenge her a little. I bought the Jeffers' book for her 6-year-old sister who is a little behind in reading and I think that book is perfect for the 6-year-old. Maia, I know, will read the Jeffers' book to her sister and get the gist of the ballet. This ETA Hoffmann book will add background and more depth to the Jeffers' book and subsequently to the ballet.
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on December 18, 2013
To me, this is the best version of the Nutcracker story, because it was based on the sets that Sendak did for the Nutcracker ballet (for the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, in 1984, I think).

The story is deftly told, and can keep the attention of even very young listeners, but, of course, the artwork is the star of this book (just as it was in the ballet).

Not everyone knows that Hoffman revered Mozart. Sendak did. Within the ballet, there is a vignette that feature Mozart's music, and within the book, there is a bust of Mozart prominently on a bookshelf. I also love the book because the story of the hard nut is told (how the nephew first turned into a nutcracker). And because, about two-thirds of the way through it, there are nine full pages of illustration without text. Nine full pages of Sendak illustrations!
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on September 21, 2012
From my childhood! I went to PNB Nutcracker as a kid, with the set designs and consumes by Maurice Sendak. This book is the PERFECT companion! It is a greatly illustrated book and enjoy breaking it out every Christmas time and looking it over. This particular purchase was a replacement for a copy I have somehow misplaced.
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VINE VOICEon February 5, 2013
I will confess from the beginning that I have never liked Nutcracker. Perhaps I am uncultured, but the story is bizarre to me, and my personality just does not mesh well with the bizarre. Having said that, however, this particular rendition of the popular tale made more sense to me than any other version I have attempted to read or watch.

Apparently, many versions of Nutcracker exist, some of them very untrue to E.T.A. Hoffman's original 1816 tale. This version, translated by Ralph Manheim and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, claims to be at least close to the original story. It includes "The Story of the Hard Nut," a segment I never recall reading or hearing, but one that adds a great deal of meaning to the overall story.

The language of this Nutcracker definitely reflects an older style of writing and language. Even so, this is a version that older children would enjoy, especially those fond of Sendak's illustration style. At times his drawings lend much to the story itself, while at other times they seem to simply be sketchings loosely attached to the current action. Either way, they are whimsical and expressive.

I will emphasize that while Nutcracker is illustrated, it is not a young children's picture book. The full story of Nutcracker is dark and, as mentioned before, bizarre. As such, this version was not created for a very young audience.

While I will probably never truly enjoy Nutcracker, I consider this to be a good rendition of the story and I am happy to have it on my shelf.

This book was sent to me by WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.
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