From School Library Journal
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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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