From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–After illustrating The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King (Picture Book Studio, 1983; o.p.), Zwerger has taken on the challenge of creating a completely different set of images almost a quarter century later. She has succeeded admirably. This version features somewhat surreal, almost theatrically presented tableaux, delicately and darkly rendered in pen and ink and watercolor. Readers are far removed from the action–sometimes back in the nosebleed section, as opposed to the earlier edition, in which readers were right in the middle of everything. The 2004 Marie is a china doll of a girl, unlike the more realistically presented character of the past. This would be a hard version to share with a group, though Koppe's retelling is more accessible and detailed than the earlier title. This Nutcracker dramatically illustrates the growth and evolution of an important illustrator.–M. A.
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Reviewed with Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid.
Gr. 3-5. Artist Zwerger expands her repertoire of beguilingly illustrated tales by two, both of which contain surprises for readers primarily familiar with popular film or stage versions. Mermaid reinstates the tragic ending and spiritual-mystical components abandoned by Disney; nutcracker, though condensed by adaptor Susanne Koppe, preserves the Mouse King's seven heads and devotes a good chunk of the narrative (as in Hoffman's original) to the story-within-a-story starring Princess Pirlipat. The hypnotic, even slightly chilly, sensibility that pervades Zwerger's work seems a more logical accompaniment to the poignant Mermaid than to nutcracker, whose spirited fantasy seems somehow dampened by the artist's penchant for quiet, dimly lit scenes and slightly arcane imagery. Zwerger first illustrated The Nutcracker and the Mouse King in 1979, but has created entirely new paintings this time around, which will compete for balletomanes' attention with Sendak's lengthier, more rambunctious 1981 treatment. These renditions of cherished stories will prove useful in the coming months, as the 200th anniversary of Andersen's birth approaches and as ballet companies commence their annual march to the Kingdom of Sweets. Jennifer Mattson
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