Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
on December 21, 2014
My kids love this book. The story is age-appropriate for them (3 & 5) so I can't complain. The illustrations are alright. They are not terribly beautiful and some of the facial features are kind of ugly/creepy, but they are colorful and fairly engaging.
My main problem with this version of this classic story is that I just don't feel that it is very well-written. Some of the sentences are awkwardly constructed and do not flow well when read aloud. Example: "Then Drosselmeir got out from under the tree his gift for Marie and gave it to her." Now this sentence is grammatically correct. But in order to avoid splitting her infinitives, the author has sacrificed elegance and word flow. It is a difficult choice, but with a book that is meant to be read aloud to children, readability should have a fairly high priority. Besides, there is a simple fix to this problem: "Then Drosselmeir got his gift for Marie, which lay underneath the tree, and gave it to her." Another example: "The snowflakes tasted like sugar; exquisite little snow fairies danced all around them, beckoning them on." So maybe I'm just nitpicking in this case, but the oversight here is still irksome because it is misleading to the reader. Again, this sentence is technically grammatically correct: two complete thoughts are separated by a semi-colon. But there isn't any reason they should be because the two thoughts aren't really connected in any substantive way. When you read the first thought, "The snowflakes tasted like sugar" and you see the semi-colon coming, you have the natural expectation that the second thought is somehow going to elaborate on, or reflect back on, the snowflakes which taste like sugar. But it doesn't. The second thought is about snow fairies dancing and beckoning. The simplest course of action would be to make these two separate sentences, so the author's choice of a semi-colon is bizarre and complicates both thoughts unnecessarily. Finally, I just think the sentences in general are over-long and complex for a read-aloud book. "Then she clapped her hands, and little angels with golden wings and halos took their places for the fairies' dance honoring the homecoming of the little prince." A good number of the book's sentences are of this complex variety. These sentences can easily be simplified by breaking them into two, smaller, more read-aloud friendly sentences: "Then she clapped her hands and little angels with golden wings and halos appeared. They took their places for the fairies' dance honoring the homecoming of the little prince." It is curious that the author consistently chose a more complex sentence structure, given her target audience. My guess is that although the story itself is appropriate for the 3-8 set, the actual reading level of the book is probably 3rd grade.
I'm really glad my kids like it. And it did fulfill its purpose, which was simply to introduce them to a classic story that I loved as a child and love now as an adult. It also gives them a grasp of the general plot prior to going to the ballet. But I will be searching for another, more readable version. Preferably with better artwork.