Does everyone know the story of The Nutcracker? I sure thought I did, especially after the annual Christmas ballet performance by Ballet Mississippi that I looked forward to each year as a child, sitting up straight in my starched pink dress, craning my neck to see my friend and classmate dancing the role of Clara. I thought I did. In fact, I’d internalized it so far that I had utterly forgotten to tell my children the story yet, or maybe I thought they just weren’t ready.
At 4, Widget is ready. A big box of books arrived today with a nice note from the publisher and we eagerly tore it open, because who doesn’t love a big box of books? I thought The Nutcracker would be one of the last ones picked, but this beautiful book was the first, the friendly illustrations beckoning to my children, and, after a quick reconnaissance through the house to collect ALL the available pillows, we sat down to read.
We read the story, Drosselmeier, Clara, Mama, Papa, and careless Fritz, all the way through. And then we read the story of the Nutcracker, and marveled at the ending that tied it all together. The illustrations were gorgeous, rich, and welcoming, and my 4 year old cuddled in my lap, spellbound, until we had read the very last page.
It left us wanting for more, and waiting for the magic of Christmas. And that is more than I expected from a simple retelling of an age-old story. Nicely done.
The Nutcracker, retold by John Cech, and illustrated by Eric Puybaret, was sent to me this week by Sterling Books.