My favorite event of the Christmas season is the local production of the Nutcracker ballet. The city’s finest dancers, the incredible orchestra, and even some intricate, giant puppets come together to create a magical evening.
The beloved Nutcracker story has been told through countless versions and adaptations over the years. Some are classic, some wacky, some tug on the heartstrings, and some even evoke fear. Here are some favorites as well as some unusual spin offs of the original tale.
1. Nutcracker translated by Ralph Manheim
E.T.A Hoffman was a 19th century German writer, composer, scholar, and artist, among several other things. In 1892 he wrote The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which became the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s musical composition. This is Manheim’s translation of the Hoffman’s original work.
2. Nutcracker by Mary Engelbreit
Engelbreit’s artwork is timeless and this collection is no exception. There are so many colors on the page, all bright and inviting, and the simple faces of the kids in the story appeal to children of all ages.
3. The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Everyone’s favorite bear family gets their own nutcracker soldier as a Christmas gift. After wearing out all their other toys, they decide to play dress-up and find themselves immersed in the old story of Clara and her enchanted soldier prince.
4. Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza
Don’t think that classical music can be adapted and redone as jazz? Think again! When historical documents about Ellington’s career are combined with Celenza’s own imagination, this entertaining and informative kid’s book is the delightful result.
5. The Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet and Valeria Docampo
This book tells the classic story, but the illustrations mirror the choreography of George Balanchine’s famous NYC production. Budding ballerinas will love having this piece of NYC Ballet magic at home.
6. Clara’s Gifts by Leica Hardy and Marianne Ward
The Nutcracker production that features the Halifax Dance Academy, Symphony Nova Scotia, and Mermaid Theatre has been adapted here for the page. Based on the adaptation performed in my own hometown each year, the illustrations in this picture book are nothing short of magical.
7. DK Eyewitness Classics: The Nutcracker by James Mayhew
As with all DK books, the classic story is told here, along with facts and figures about its background, history, and the culture surrounding it. Written in a simple and straightforward manner, this is a perfect resource for curious kiddos who want to know just a little bit more about their favorite Christmas story.
8. Nancy Drew: The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Even Nancy Drew finds inspiration in this ballet story! The famous teenage sleuth finds trouble wherever she goes – even at the theater! Nancy has to tiptoe around this mystery just as the dancers toe their way across the stage.
9. The Nutcracker Bleeds by Lani Lenore
A much darker and complicated version than most, this book tells of toys that come to life and terrorize a young woman who finds herself in their world. It’s hard to imagine a story where the nutcracker is evil, but this one does it!
10. Becoming a Ballerina: A Nutcracker Story by Lise Friedman and Mary Dowdle
The gorgeous photographs in this book follow a young girl named Fiona as she auditions, rehearses, and dances with the Boston Ballet. Reading this from the ballerina’s point of view helps us understand the effects of the music, dance, and story on those who perform it.
Even those who are not ballet lovers can find books adapted from or inspired by the original tale to suit their taste. What’s your favorite version of The Nutcracker?
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Featured image via Dance Victoria