Written by Kristin Kladstrup
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
It may seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas stories, but this charming addition to Nutcracker lore is well worth a look. It may be time to start learning about the ballet in preparation.
This version revolves around two young females – a girl named Irina whose parents work at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and a dancing mouse named Esmeralda – at the time of the first performance of the Nutcracker Suite. Irina and Esmeralda become unlikely allies when the theater tries to rid the theater of the mouse population. Irina loves mice and Esmeralda loves the doll clothes/ballet costumes Irina sews. The mouse ballet company uses a space behind the walls as a theater of their own and use the music provided by the theater’s orchestra. They change the story to Clara and the Mouse King so the mice can win and to add some romance.
The illustrations are fun, creative, and detailed, adding much to the story.
The reader can learn a lot about the music and story behind the Nutcracker, a lot about ballet, and a little about Russia as well.
The mouse characters seem almost real, so the fantasy is nearly forgotten. This would be a great read-along chapter-by-chapter for a younger child or a fun story for older children to tackle.
- Title: Nutcracker Mice
- Author: Kristin Kladstrup
- Illustrator: Brett Helquist
- Published: Candlewick, 2017
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
- Grade Level: 2 to 5
- Genre: Fantasy, Ballet, Classical Music
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-8519-5
- Extras: Nutcracker Suite Scenario, Clara and the Mouse King Scenario