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The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition
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The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Every December, The Nutcracker comes to life in theaters all across the United States. But how did this 19th-century Russian ballet become such a big part of the holidays in 21st-century America?

Meet Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, three small-town Utah boys who caught the ballet bug in the early 1900s. They performed on vaudeville and took part in the New York City d
Library Binding, 36 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Millbrook Press
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  216 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Start your review of The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition
This is an absolutely gorgeously illustrated book that tells the story of The Nutcracker Ballet. It's very informative while staying on a level that even young children can understand. I believe it would be particularly enjoyed with a viewing of The Nutcracker, but even without that, this is the type of book that can become a Christmas tradition to read for both children and adults alike.

This review is unbiased and based upon a copy won through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informative. I had no idea how or why The Nutcracker was a Christmas tradition. Now I do.
Katt Hansen
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
For some reason I'd thought of the Nutcracker as one of those traditions that was always part of Christmas. I hadn't given any real thought as to where it began, and how it became a part of holiday celebration.

This book gives the story behind the performance that just about everyone has at least heard of. My only complaint is that it felt like there was so much information that the author just had to gloss over a lot, and was really picking and choosing which facts to use. This made the story a
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An informative picture book history of the Nutcracker ballet production in America. Barton's story of the Christensen brothers and their role in the annual holiday tradition is told in a conversational style that is engaging and makes this interesting for all ages. A lovely picture book that is likely to become part of the annual Nutcracker holiday observance. ...more
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I normally don't review children's books but a friend gave this to my daughter and I was fascinated by the history in this little beautifully illustrated picture book--particularly the Utah connection to bringing The Nutcracker to the United States. ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, nyc
This is the story of how Nutcracker became a December staple for American ballet companies (which it isn't elsewhere in the world). It's also the story of the Christensen brothers, who started both the San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West.

The tone is pretty casual, but it works well. The backmatter contains a full timeline. There are suggestions for further reading, but it's not a bibliography (see the author's note for that); it's more about similar or related books.

Some of the dance illustrati
Jo Oehrlein
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: dance, picture-books
This tells the story of 3 brothers and what led them to create the first staging of the Nutcracker in the US.

From small town Utah, to NYC, San Francisco, Portland, and back to Utah, these brothers had a huge impact on ballet in the US. They led 2 major ballet companies (San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West), led big ballet schools, and started a holiday tradition.

I thought the time line at the end was especially edifying.
Melyssa LeDay
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to Nutcracker and wanted to learn more. Appreciated this book. One of the 3 attended West Point for awhile. Good for ballet and the Nutcracker that he choose dance as his career. Beautiful illustrations too. ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a very cool book. I never would have known the history behind the Nutcracker ballet. I was very surprised to learn that it was created by Americans. The illustrations are very well done. Also I think the text is perfectly written for a younger audience to listen to and enjoy.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
This would be a wonderful gift to accompany a child's or an adult's viewing of the holiday classic ballet, The Nutcracker. ...more
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the biographical telling of how the Nutcracker became popularized in America. Wonderful illustrations and a story that is written at a child's level. ...more
Kai Charles(Fiction State Of Mind)
Surprising origin of a Christmas staple
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved The Nutcracker Comes to America. I did. True, I don't think it comes as a big, big surprise to anyone who knows how much I love, love, love The Nutcracker. But still, I loved it.

This nonfiction picture book focuses on three dancing brothers--William (Willam), Harold, and Lew Christensen. Not all three brothers were born loving to dance even though it was the family business, but, they all learned to love dancing and excelled at it. In fact, two of the brothers left their hometown and so
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you were to ask a group of children if they have heard of the German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, you will probably find yourself the recipient of many silent stares. If you question them about their knowledge of a Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, a low mumbling about your current state of mind is likely to begin. On the other hand if you mention The Nutcracker, nods of recognition and slight smiles will be seen and the stories will start.

The more curious minds in your group will star
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. But I have to admit, there is a bias because I love the Nutcracker. First of all, the way the book is written is unique to children's history book- it reads more like a conversation than a history book. I found the illustrations gorgeous and felt like they did a good job capturing the movement of ballet. The Nutcracker Comes to America also does a great job setting the time frame for kids in the book- showing that it takes place largely around the World Wars. I felt like I lea ...more
Holly Mueller
It was tradition when Libby and Katie were growing up for us to go see "The Nutcracker" every Christmas. We've seen it many times in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and the girls have a Nutcracker collection. Barton's strong voice, creative lead, and research about how the Christensen brothers of Utah brought the Russian ballet to America will appeal to many kids who, like my daughters, enjoy the show every year. Beautiful paintings by illustrator Cathy Gendron grace the pages and bring to life the h ...more
June Jacobs
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've loved the Nutcracker Ballet since I was fortunate enough to see a live performance in the San Francisco Opera House when I was a child. This picture book narrates the story of how this ballet became a Christmas tradition in the United States.

The illustrations are gorgeous and realistic when depicting the varying time periods mentioned in the text. The author provides a detailed timeline at the end of the story where I learned even more about the history of this artistic family.

Highly recomm
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful story of three siblings who work together to make a dream come true: The Nutcracker. From humble beginnings in Utah to the big stage of San Francisco with vaudeville and world war II in between, this is a story not only of gumption but also a story of life unfolding during that era. Bold, mixed media illustrations bring the story of the Christensen brothers to life. The story is told at times with brief interjections, which may be distract some readers and may also keep other ...more
Mary Ann
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
When the three Christensen brothers learned ballet, they not only fell in love with dance, they also loved the show-stopping way it entranced audiences. Fast forward to 1940s when the brothers were in charge of the San Francisco Ballet, searching for a big production that would draw in crowds and they staged the first American full-length production of what was soon to become an American tradition. This well-researched history helps children see that what we love as classics today were actually ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Familiar tone welcomes the reader into a history that could be very dry. 'You probably don't think of this.' I had never thought much about how Americans came to love the annual tradition, but this will be a treat to all dancers?
Full color, surrealist illustrations show angular lines. Some pages show full theater scenes with curtains and audiences. Others show a few dancing figures against a white background with a ribbon floating over and around them. Texture is provided with fine faint lines,
Illustrations are great; loved reading how the illustrator spent a year researching and practicing to create them. The story is very interesting--I always enjoyed the Nutcracker when I was able to go see it. Never thought how it became a tradition, and certainly didn't think it was 3 small-town Utah boys who brought it about. The story-telling wasn't absolutely fabulous, but it still kept me interested. I think fans of dancing, ballet, and the Nutcracker will like this little bit of history. How ...more
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bookaday #157. I've seen many performances, live and TV, of the Nutcracker ballet but never really thought about how it came to be. Barton takes a casual approach to the narration of the history of the brothers responsible for such this staple of holiday entertainment. The illustrations have a warm, wood grain feel. Love the timeline with photos and the endpages with stage backdrops from the ballet. ...more
3.5 stars A interesting story about Ballet, the Nutcracker and some boys from Brigham City, Utah. The illustrations are great and well thought out and planned. The information is very interesting! They are also the key players who got the Salt Lake City Ballet company going (we know it as Ballet West)
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

The background behind an American holiday tradition is shared in this interesting story of The Nutcracker Ballet. Who knew three brothers from Utah were responsible for bringing this Russian ballet to America? Back matter contains an author's and illustrator's note, and a a timeline with several photographs. Great story! Great illustrations!
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I had just watched the ballet last year. It was cool to read the story behind the story- at least once it got to the US. I didn't know about the San Francisco and Portland connections! Another cool thing was how the brothers kept going back to the idea and getting back together despite circumstances. ...more
Laura Salas
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a cool nonfiction picture book! I never thought to wonder about how this tradition started, and it's a very neat story. I loved hearing Chris talk about some of the research behind this book at NCTE, too. Great themes of determination, brothers working together, the 1930s-1950s, and artistic collaboration. ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reviewed for the Mock Caldecott Awards. A story about 3 brothers from Utah who grew up and became interested in ballet and choreography. With help from some Russian friends, they choreographed dances to Tchaikovsky's music and this evolved into the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker. I thought the colors and illustrations were beautiful. ...more
Dawn Woods
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Good illustrations will help younger children read some background to the story of the Nutcracker. It does have American bias, but adults can help UK children over that. Role of male ballet dancers is especially useful for all children to see. A quick, enjoyable read with an easy style.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I was a little disappointed in this. I feel like something is missing from the brothers' story, the big "so what" or twist or shocking bit or something. Three stars for story, five for the gorgeous pictures. ...more
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I'm the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, which was included on 21 state reading lists.

My newest books include Fire Truck vs. Dragon, All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing, What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of

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