Friday, December 18, 2009

Sharing the Nutcracker story with children (ages 4 - 9)

One of our holiday traditions that we love to share with our children is seeing the Nutcracker ballet each year, whether it's going to the ballet or watching it on TV.  This year, we took my youngest to the San Francisco ballet for the first time and she was enthralled.  When the dolls started dancing, she said, "Mommy, they're people." If you can, try to read a picture book with the story before sharing the ballet - young children will get so much more out of the ballet if they know the story beforehand.
The Nutcracker
by Susan Jeffers
NY: HarperCollins, 2007
ages 4 - 7
Set in the Victorian times, this version of the Nutcracker is a beautiful, simple introduction to the story and the ballet.  Jeffer's illustrations bring alive a sense of wonder and enchantment.  The soft hues and intricate details will draw young children into the story.  She captures the excitement and emotional tenor of the story in a way that captivates audiences.  The simple text clearly explains the gift of the Nutcracker at the Christmas party, the Nutcracker's fight with the Mouse King, and Marie's magical journey with the prince.  With just a few lines on each page, this is a perfect introduction for young children.

Susan Jeffers wrote about creating the artwork for this story:
What I love is the combination of fantasy and reality, taking the dancers and making them into snow and lifting them into the air. In the actual ballet the music and the beauty of the dance transport the audience to dreamland. I wanted the book to have the same feeling.
Here is a spread from The Nutcracker, when Marie and the prince begin their journey to the land of the sweets.

Jeffers captures the grace and magic of the ballet, truly transporting us into this fantasy world.  For a look inside, visit HarperCollin's site.

The review copy came from my local public library.  Find a copy at your public library using WorldCat, or stop by your local bookstore.

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