Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Nutcracker in Harlem” as Want to Read:
The Nutcracker in Harlem
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Nutcracker in Harlem

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  52 reviews
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year!

This jazz-inspired reinvention of The Nutcracker is a worthy tribute to the dreamlike wonder and magic of the Christmas season.

In this original retelling, set in New York City during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, one little girl finds her voice as a musician thanks to her enchanting adventures with
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by HarperCollins
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Nutcracker in Harlem, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Nutcracker in Harlem

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  52 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Nutcracker in Harlem
Stunningly Beautiful Illustrations lend strength to McMorrow's faithful retelling (in part) of the world renowned Nutcracker by E. F. Hoffman. Truly a joy to behold!

McMorrow's version is set in Sugar Hill, during the Harlem Renaissance - honoring both the influential importance of culture and music. And he features prominent musical legends Cab Callaway and Adelaide Hall as representative characters within the story. Historically and culturally rich. Including his author's note at book's end.

Brenda Kahn
This is a fairly faithful retelling of the story of The Nutcracker but set in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem in the 1920s. The illustrations are rich and colorful and beautifully evoke Harlem of that time. A lovely addition to any collection
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young Nutcracker Fans Looking for Something a Little Different
Author T.E. McMorrow spins the story of Marie, a young girl during the Harlem Renaissance who must learn to join in the music around her, in this African-American adaptation of the classic German holiday tale, The Nutcracker. Although she loves the jazz musicians who are attending her parents' grand Christmas party, Marie is shy about singing with them. Then her Uncle Cab gives her a toy nutcracker, and she has a magical dream in which the Nutcracker battles a menacing Mouse King. Marie herself ...more
Denise Lauron
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful retelling of the classic story. The illustrations are wonderful, and the story is modern. It would hold the attention of an older child.
Christmas Eve is two days away. Today after playing with my canine companion outside, I found thirty-six white bags and thirty-six white candles on my doorstep. Our neighborhood is the only one in the area to line luminaries along the streets on Christmas Eve. They have been doing it for fifty-three years. My home sits on a corner lot, so I have the honor of placing the lights on two sides. It is going to be a wonderful sight.

Each year this time brings to mind welcome memories of past
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
First sentence: It was snowing in Harlem on Christmas Eve. The party at Marie's house swirled with colors, gold and red and green. Mama and Poppy were dancing. Miss Addie sang, and Uncle Cab played the piano. Marie loved the sound of Christmas.

Premise/plot: This picture book is an adaptation of The Nutcracker. In this adaptation, the story is set in Harlem during the 1920s. Marie, the heroine, is a bit shy or hesitant; she hasn't found her confidence yet to sing or dance, to join in the vibrant
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful illustrations.
Micha O'Connor
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Debut picture book author McMorrow teams up with seasoned illustrator Ransome to create a magical twist on the classic story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Set in 1920’s Sugar Hill New York, the illustrations are as alive and vibrant as life during the Harlem Renaissance. Little Marie loves the sound of the music playing at her party on Christmas Eve; she wants to sing along, but is afraid she’s not any good. Gifted a drummer boy nutcracker from Cab (as in Calloway), Marie lies by the ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
McMorrow, T. E. The Nutcracker in Harlem. PICTURE BOOK. Illustrated by James Ransome. Harper, 2017. $18.

Even with all of the music surrounding her, young Marie can’t seem to find her voice and join in. Then for Christmas one year, Uncle Cab gives her a nutcracker. That night her dreams are filled with a crazy story of ranks of nutcracker soldiers fighting a large mouse army. Its only when Marie takes up the drum and joins in that the mice are repelled. Though it may not strictly be a voice,
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a DELIGHTFUL surprise to find on my doorstep this holiday. I've enjoyed several versions of this wonderful holiday story over the years and it never fails to amaze me how they manage to come up with some new version that still captures the magic of the original, yet brings its own dose of holiday fun. Take this one for adds a jazzy flair to the story of old with a leading little lady trying to find her voice in a time when the rhythm was what you made of it. Watching Marie ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nkyclear
This Christmas tale, The Nutcracker with a musical spin, depicts the story of a shy young girl who is inspired by her dream to come out of her shell. The setting is integral to this retelling; Marie is surrounded by the music of the Harlem Renaissance, and over the course of the story gains the courage to make her own music. Simple but well-written sentences and dialog compose the tale, making it appropriate for younger audiences. The author’s note provides some background about the famous ...more
June Jacobs
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful adaptation of 'The Nutcracker and the Mouse King' by E.T.A. Hoffman. This version is set in Harlem (New York, New York) during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's.

The 'Author's Note' at the end of the book is valuable in introducing children to the rich history of the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem in New York City during this time period.

I believe the fashions and accessories featured in this book are accurate to the period from my knowledge of Jazz Age designs. The
Martha Meyer
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Here's the perfect holiday book for girls who love the Nutcracker story or ballet. A young girl during the Harlem Renaissance learns (while dreaming of the Nutcracker) to stand up and join in the music making by playing the drum! The illustrations by James Ransome are gorgeous and bring this period of history to life. Made me want to dance with the Nutcracker! The author was, in his youth, a stage hand for the Dance Theater of Harlem, so watched the company rehearse. He creates in this story a ...more
Sara Easterly
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in Harlem’s Sugar Hill in the 1920s, this re-telling of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is lovely. Fictional characters are named after influential musicians of the Harlem Renaissance Adelaide Hall, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway — each of whom influence the main character, Marie, as she looks up to them as her role models.

Reviewed as a roundup of my favorite holiday books at
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, retelling
This is a really beautifully illustrated retelling of the Nutcracker. It's set in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, with lots of music and art around.

The retelling is mainly of Act I. (No Land of Sweets or equivalent; Marie just wakes up.) The nutcracker is also never broken.

Marie's growth arc is about having the confidence to be part of creating music herself, not just listening to others.
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
A beautiful and diverse retelling of a masterpiece. This is a Nutcracker story with a lovely reminder about how the power of music and dance can inspire and transform people. Much like it did to this story's main character, Marie. This is one of my favorite holiday books I've read this year. I highly recommend picking this one up! McMorrow's retelling is simply lovely.

Madison Buell
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elementary
Retelling of the famous Christmas story, although this time it's set in Harlem. Marie dreams of all her mother's Christmas ornaments coming to life, and she sings and dances to jazz music with them. When she wakes up, she is excited to join her family in celebrating Christmas through song and dance.
Viviane Elbee
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a retelling of the Nutcracker story, only set in Harlem in the 1920's. Two of the fictional characters are named after prominent jazz musicians who were based in Harlem during that era (Adelaide Hall and Cab Calloway).
The illustrations were nice.
The kids enjoyed the book, though it is a little bit on the longer side, text-wise.
Erin Buhr
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A beautiful version of the Nutcracker set in NYC during the Harlem Renaissance. The spirit of jazz and the vibrant culture of the time beats off the page. A unique and wonderful take on this classic story.
A fabulous retelling of the Nutcracker which takes place during the Harlem Renaissance and features some real life jazz greats. Gorgeous and colorful illustrations and an engaging storyline will enthrall young children who love the story of the Nutcracker.
Gabrielle Carolina
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Great representation; the illustrations are stunning!

I felt the pace jumped around. Initially, I felt McMorrow was seeding an intricate plot, but events quickly spiraled. The climax wasn't interesting enough.
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dance, picture-books
A Nutcracker story based in Harlem at the time of the Harlem Renaissance. It really focuses on Act I without Act II (other than waking up).

The adults are encouraging Marie to be brave and create music/art on her own, not just appreciate that that others around her create.
Briana Cimino
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
great artwork done by the illustrator. cute story about a girl who liked the nutcracker and all due to a dream, helped her come out of her shell and sing with her family.
Juanda Juanda
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I just did not like that much about this book. It was just my personal taste I guess.

I expected more about the story, but the drawing was good thou.
Lynn  Davidson
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story is a short version of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Beautifully told and illustrated.
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Loved the fresh view on an old story.
A diverse Nutcracker set in 1920s Harlem with a Jazz vibe. Illustration by the talented James Ransome.

From advanced reader copy.
Wonderful retelling of Hoffman, the author notes she wrote it to pay homage to dance and music, delightful illustrations.
Mrs. Ruigrok
A lovely retelling of The Nutcracker...but this one is set in Harlem with references to musical greats at the time. Gorgeous illustrations and a lovely version of this classic story.
Susann Williams
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated! My son loved the story though I thought the ending could have given a bit more—abrupt endings are my pet peeves.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • We March
  • Dasher
  • Miracle on 133rd Street
  • Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa
  • Let the Children March
  • Red and Lulu
  • Night Tree
  • The Snow Rabbit
  • The Little Fir Tree
  • Flora and the Flamingo
  • The Scarecrow
  • Silent Night
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga
  • Christmas in the Barn
  • Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
  • Dress Like a Girl
  • Hair Love
  • Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
See similar books…