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The Nutcracker

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,082 ratings  ·  117 reviews
New York Times bestselling artist Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker unlike any that has gone before, with a lovely spare text based on the ballet.

This is the perfect gift to share with children before they see The Nutcracker. Everyone who has seen the ballet will cherish it--as will anyone who enjoys stories where love triumphs.

Come, take a front-row seat. The world

Hardcover, 36 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by HarperCollins
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Mary Ellen Byrne I bought the Kindle version to read to my niece this past Christmas. The format is very well done and the illustrations are gorgeous! I'd have bought …moreI bought the Kindle version to read to my niece this past Christmas. The format is very well done and the illustrations are gorgeous! I'd have bought the book for the illustrations alone even if there had not been a word of the story! I hope this helps!(less)

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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,082 ratings  ·  117 reviews

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Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those seeking a ballet-influenced "Nutcracker" with lovely, soft artwork
Recommended to Kathryn by: Chandra--thank you!
I'm so glad Chandra brought this lovely version of "The Nutcracker" to my attention. It is based on the ballet version of The Nutcracker and I loved seeing all those elements (right down to Marie throwing her ballet slipper at the Mouse King!) and the really lovely Land of Sweets populated with all manner of ballerina-versions of candy and flowers and snowflakes! :-) Dear to my heart since once, years ago, I was Marie in "The Nutcracker." ...more
This Nutcracker tale left me feeling very… mixed.


On the one hand, the illustrations were simply wonderful, and the author did a good job of summarizing the story for little ones to enjoy. I also appreciated that the author chose to incorporate ballet into the storyline. This may seem inconsequential, but since the ballet is so well-known, beloved (and often a child’s first introduction to the story), it was a nice touch.

On the other hand, in the process of summarizing the story for young child
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susan Jeffers Fans / Readers Looking for Charming Picture-Books Featuring The Nutcracker
Celebrated children's author and artist Susan Jeffers turns her attention to the ballet The Nutcracker in this lovely holiday picture-book. Pairing a simple text with beautiful artwork (created in watercolor, I believe), she spins the magical tale of Marie, who is given a wooden Nutcracker by her godfather for Christmas. All of the major incidents of the ballet - the battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the visit to the Land of Sweets, the national dances performed there - follow, a ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
The story was very simple, sweet and short for a quick read about the magical seasonal ballet that we all adore. The pictures are nice watercolor of some of the nicest dances from the ballet.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my second year reading this book to upper elementary kids the week before Christmas break. I love it! It's quick read aloud - 5 to 7 minutes - but does an excellent job retelling the story of the Nutcracker and tying it to the ballet. Afterward I show clips from the ballet and most of the kiddos are interested and engaged seeing the dancers and understanding where that scene falls in the story. Even though The Nutcracker is a Christmas story, by focusing on the fairy tale elements and th ...more
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Copyright: 2007
Genre: Picture Book

This was a great adaption of "The Nutcracker" story. In the author's note in the back, Jeffers wrote that one of her purposes for writing this book was to create a less lengthy version of the story that could easily be read to a child. I think that Jeffers met this goal really well while staying true to the story. I love the length because it makes it possible for me to introduce "The Nutcracker" to my music students and complete a lesson within one or two 30 mi
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a beautifully illustrated version of The Nutcracker. The narrative is short enough to keep the attention of young children and the illustrations have a lot of detail and action.

I discovered this book for sale at a souvenir stand where our girls and I had just seen a performance of the Nutcracker, and so I browsed through the book while our girls ooh'd and ahh'd at the Nutcrackers, ballerina figurines, tiaras, and such.

It's a great book to read to children so they can understand the sto
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all ages
Shelves: children
Great adaptation of The Nutcracker. Finally a simplified version that children will understand and enjoy. Beautiful illustration as usual for Jeffers. this will be a seasonal favorite.
-`ˏ  jenn  ˎ´˗
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Nutcracker is my most favourite story I’ve ever read and this edition – all while being aimed for young children – is beautiful.

I would have adored this growing up and I am promising myself to keep it safe so that one day, maybe my own future kids will enjoy it.
Elizabeth Gajdosik
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Loved the illustrations most of all.
This is a beautifully illustrated rendition of the classic Nutcracker story.
Emily Snow
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traditional
I loved the Nutcracker growing up where I would go to the productions with my mom. Plus my best friend, Jessica has danced in the Vancouver Ballet Theater's production. I loved the illustrations because they remind me of the backdrop of the stage at the productions I would go to. I would use this as a read aloud at Christmastime. ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautifully illustrated but painfully condensed.
Lucy Eskeland
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The main character, Marie, gets three toys from her uncle for Christmas, one of those toys is a wooden nutcracker. However, her brother, Fritz, is jealous and looks like he is about to hurt Marie. When he drops the Nutcracker to the floor and breaks its head, Marie doesn’t retaliate, but drops to the floor and cradles her broken toy as if it were a baby. The adults are concerned. Marie sleeps with her toy under the Christmas tree. She won’t let go of the Nutcracker. The uncle puts a spell and t ...more
Mary Ann
Set in the Victorian times, this version of the Nutcracker is a beautiful, simple introduction to the story and the ballet. Jeffer's illustrations bring alive a sense of wonder and enchantment. The soft hues and intricate details will draw young children into the story. She captures the excitement and emotional tenor of the story in a way that captivates audiences. The simple text clearly explains the gift of the Nutcracker at the Christmas party, the Nutcracker's fight with the Mouse King, and ...more
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First sentence: It was Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaums' house. Marie and her little brother, Fritz, were listening at the ballroom door, waiting for the party to begin.

Premise/plot: An age-appropriate retelling of the Nutcracker ballet. In the author's note, Jeffers mentions that while there are plenty of Nutcracker adaptations and retellings, they tend to be very text-heavy. Her book seeks to tell the familiar story of the ballet in a way that you could actually share it with young children.

Meredith Henning
Gorgeous illustrations!
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, beautiful book! I want to read it over and over just to gaze at the illustrations.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Grades 2-5
What a beautifully illustrated tale of fantasy! This is told and illustrated in a very classic style, with gorgeous watercolor illustrations throughout. The ending is a little different from what I remember at the ballet version, but very satisfying nonetheless. I think children will enjoy reading it, especially if they are going to see the new Nutcracker movie this season. It would make a nice Christmas gift, as well. Highly recommended for Grades 2-5. It could be read aloud to younger children ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book to read before seeing the Nutcracker ballet! There are lots of versions of the Nutcracker, but the original by Hoffman isn’t great for young children and most versions don’t relate very well to the ballet. This book is really a retelling of the ballet more than the Hoffman story, and it’s wonderful! It’s well written and the illustrations are beautiful. My 5-year-old loves it, as she did last year!
Oct 26, 2020 rated it liked it
A version of the classic Christmas story of a young girl who receives a nutcracker as a gift on Christmas Eve, adapted for younger readers and with illustrations by Susan Jeffers. In the author's note, she mentions that she wrote this version in hopes that it could be shared with children before they see the ballet and that she wanted the illustrations to reflect that the story is also a ballet and I think this comes through. Overall, a nice version of the classic. ...more
Good story - but not a good ebook

The Nutcracker is a lovely Christmas fairytale! The artwork is beautiful in this edition. Unfortunately this picture book doesn't translate to an ebook very well. The print is too small and it isn't easy to enlarge the text. Despite the tiny font it was still a nice book to read with my daughter.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Perfect present for my five-year old niece, who danced in her first Nutcracker production as a snowflake. The glittery cover is perfect, the story abridged to make for a lovely read aloud, and Jeffers’ illustrations leave open many possibilities of exploration and discovery.

In a crowded room of Nutcracker books, this one is a stand-out.
Jessica Starzyk
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
This is the first time that I have read the Nutcracker, so, I do not know how close it is to the original story. All that being said, I thought it was very sweet. It teaches the readers how to treat people and things with respect. I always like a good romance story!

Grade: k-3
Genre: Traditional Literature
Lauren Duffy
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lovely picture book for young children that tells the story of this ballet. We read this to our 5 year old before taking her to see the Houston Ballet performance so she would have a better idea of what was happening during the performance. My daughter really loved this book and asked if we could keep it longer from the library.
Delightful in every possible way!

This picture book version of the Nutcracker Ballet contains a brief retelling of this enchanting tale. The illustrations will secure it it's rightful place amidst the Christmas seasons best books.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great intro to the ballet in picture-book format. We liked that there was lots of dancing in the illustrations, as there should be! We were confused why the girl's name is Marie instead of Clara. It has an extended, fairy-tale ending. ...more
Lauren Fullington
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Christmas story apart from Dickens Christmas Carol. I've seen the musical, the live action movie, and the Barbie version. I even read somewhere that Disney is making a new version of the nutcracker. Can't wait for that and the new retellings I found by Claire Legrand ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A simplified version of The Nutcracker. This book incorporates ballet, but also reducing down the story to make it easier for young children to follow. Lovely illustrations. A good addition to our collection.
Brandi Johnson
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first version of "The Nutcracker" I have read and I loved it! I thought the illustrations were beautiful and I was not disappointed. I will be purchasing this one for my own personal library as well. ...more
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There is more than one author with this name.


Graduate of Pratt Institute 1964
Worked in the publishing field for three years
Began freelance career in 1968
Published first children's book in 1970


Caldecott Honor
Golden Apple Biennial Bratislava
The ABBY American Booksellers Best Book award
Society of Illustrators Awards of Merit
Golden Kite Society of Children's Books Author Illustrators

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