Saturday, September 19, 2015

Nutcracker Season Is Here!

It's only September, but ballet schools across the country are already holding auditions for the holiday favorite The Nutcracker. I finally convinced my 8-year-old and 10-year-old daughters to try out for a local production this year. Luckily, as with many recreational ballet schools, this one tries to cast everyone who auditions. The girls auditioned last Saturday, and we have just a few days left before we find out their parts!

While we're waiting, I thought I would do a little research to see what Nutcracker-themed picture books have just been published or will be coming out soon. As I expected, I found quite a few! Here are the four I'm most looking forward to reading...

Written in verse by Kristyn Crow with illustrations by Molly Idle, Zombelina Dances The Nutcracker is a follow-up to Zombelina, which introduced readers to a young Zombie who loves to dance. In the new book, Zombelina and her friend Lizzie need to figure out how to save The Nutcracker production they're supposed to dance in at the local opera house.

Rachel Isadora's Bea in The Nutcracker is another sequel -- to Bea at Ballet. The first book was a concept book, introducing young children to the components of a ballet class. Bea in The Nutcracker breaks down the components of a classical ballet, using The Nutcracker as an example.

I don't know too much about this version of The Nutcracker by Stephanie Spinner and Peter Malone, except that it comes with a CD of the Tchaikovsky score. But the cover really draws me in, and I'd love to see more of the illustrations!

The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition also piqued my interested. Written by Chris Barton with illustrations by Cathy Gendron, this book tells the story of how The Nutcracker, which is a Russian ballet, became such a special tradition in the United States.

A few years ago I wrote a post on the blog Dance Advantage about some of my favorite Nutcracker books at that time. You can read the post here, in case you are looking for more dance books this holiday season.

Do you have a favorite Nutcracker picture book? Or do any of the new ones look interesting to you? I'd love to hear!


  1. I used to love A Very Young Dancer when I was a kid, which was a book about a real girl performing in The Nutcracker

    1. Hi, Janna. Thanks for your comment! That title sounds very familiar. I am going to go check it out. Sounds like it could be a perfect gift for a dancer performing in the show :)

  2. I've been looking for a beautifully illustrated copy of the nutcracker for a while with browner looking characters than the usual for two years now and am coming up with nothing. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks for your time regardless!

    1. Hi, Brandon. Thanks so much for your comment and for reading the blog. You make a very good point. Now that I think of it, I can't think of a book like the one you described, though it doesn't mean there isn't one out there that neither of us has discovered. Another book does come to mind, though. It isn't a retelling of the Nutcracker, but does have a Nutcracker theme related to music -- Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza and Don Tate. Have you heard of it? In writing this message to you, I've been looking around some more as well. I've found one out-of-print book called The Harlem Nutcracker, for which used copies may be available. There's also a book called The Cajun Nutcracker, though it looks like more of a parody. The good news is that multicultural books are on the rise, so hopefully there will soon be more diverse Nutcracker stories out there!

  3. Thank you for your suggestions, I hope you're right - I've been surprised and disappointed at just how difficult it has been to find what I'm looking for when there's so many beautiful nutcracker books with blonde Clara's out there!


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