Merry Christmas and festive wishes to all our readers! One of the things I love to do is curl up in bed with a book on Christmas Eve....

Mummy and BookBairn Book Group - The Nutcracker

Friday, December 29, 2017 BookBairn 4 Comments

Merry Christmas and festive wishes to all our readers!

One of the things I love to do is curl up in bed with a book on Christmas Eve. Something I can read cover to cover and absorb the full story. So I was thrilled to pick up a very small, but perfectly-formed, book with a festive theme this year. I so enjoyed reading this illustrated edition of 'The Nutcracker' by designer Sanna Annukka. I've never read the story before, originally by ETA Hoffmann though I am familiar with the Alexandre Dumas version that was adapted for the stage ballet. And I found the differences quite fascinating. I loved this story so much, and as it was short I'd recommend reading it even if you are already familiar with the more famous retelling. The illustrations in this version were bold, striking and full of the life of the story. They are very linear and geometric in style and make this book all the more beautiful and stylish.

This was the perfect choice for me to read this year as BookBairn has been enjoying 'The Story Orchestra' retelling of Tchaikovsky's ballet with illustrations by Jessica Courtney-Tickle.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story (the ballet version) is the magical adventure of a little girl called Clara who is given a beautiful selection of hand-made toys by her Uncle Drosselmeyer but her favourite is a wooden soldier nutcracker. She stays up late playing with her new toy when all of a sudden the Mouse King and his army declare war on the Nutcracker and Clara and her brother's toys. Just when it looks like the Mouse King will be victorious, little Clara throws her shoe across the room and clonks him straight on the head and knocks him out cold. (The original Hoffmann tale goes into great history of the Mouse King and Queen which I found to be fascinating.) And when the Mouse King is defeated the Nutcracker is revealed as the true Prince of the Land of Sweets. He whisks Clara off on the adventure of a lifetime to watch performances from the Sugar Plum Fairy and various delicious dancers. As the night ends, Clara awakes to find her nutcracker toy in her arms, as if the whole thing was a dream.

And this version really is a dream to read. The illustrations are utterly delightful and really capture the magic of this tale. The characters truly come alive.

But this book has a little more magic between it's pages. Each page has a unique button that when pressed plays a short excerpt of music from Tchaikovsky's original music from the ballet. BookBairn just loves this! And it really does sweep you away into the story. Such a brilliant way to introduce children to classical music too. Whilst this is a wonderful story and beautifully illustrated, BookBairn's favourite page is the very final endpaper which features all ten musical note buttons so she can play each part of the ballet over and over. And, ok, for the moment she chooses her favourite buttons based on their colour but I hope that it will help her appreciate the music too.

These two books are both incredibly beautiful and make great companion reads for the Mummy and BookBairn Book Group.

If you have any recommendations for Mummy and BookBairn Book Group, we would love to hear them! And if you want to read along, we'd love to hear your reviews. 

Happy Reading,
Mummy and BookBairn xx


  1. I love the Nutcracker so look forward to hunting this out

    1. You can definitely borrow mine though I'm not sure BookBairn will part with her copy.

  2. Nice books and nice photographs of Mummy and BookBairn.