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


4.01  ·  Rating details ·  11,956 ratings  ·  713 reviews
The tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. It has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share.

Maurice Sendak designed brilliant sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of Nutcracker and has created
Hardcover, First Edition, 102 pages
Published September 13th 1984 by Crown Publishers (first published 1816)
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 Nutcracker, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Michael Watson There is an interesting introductory essay by Jack Zipes in the Penguin Classics edition (the one that contains both Hoffman's original story and…moreThere is an interesting introductory essay by Jack Zipes in the Penguin Classics edition (the one that contains both Hoffman's original story and Dumas' "lighter and sweeter" adaptation). Zipes addresses the question that you ask, saying that Drosselmeier is indeed not entirely helpful: he observes Marie, to see how she will react, before providing any assistance. He wants to see if she will remain true to her own imagination, or permit it to be stifled by her parents' urging her to put aside her childish fantasies. Hoffman, as a German Romanticist, believed that fairy tales should be subversive, urging children to give free reign to their imagination. Apparently, he made this point very explicitly at a meeting of a literary society of which he was a member late in his life. So I guess I would say that yes, there is some ambivalence to Drosselmeier. He is subversive in the way he challenges the treatment of children as "little adults" who should exactly obey rational, orderly rules as they are presented in the Stahlbaum household.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,956 ratings  ·  713 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Nutcracker
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Okay, I picked this book for a challenge here on Goodreads but now I want the whole set of these books. I'm loving these covers and they are too expensive right now. Maybe get one a month.


I will also have to admit I have never seen the Nutcracker on tv. I might have seen bits of one when I was little. Yeah, I never thought I would be into the play, movies, whatever . . . but now I want to watch them.

I will also admit that this book creeped me out in the beginning when they were describing the
Joey Woolfardis
Translations are, as a rule, pretty bad. I feel like this translation did not do the original story justice at all and a lot of the magic had seeped through the cracks as a result.

The story itself has dark layers to it that the ballet does not possess. It has a rather disjointed flow to it and altogether it is a fairly obvious story of a time long ago (when attractiveness was the most important quality in any thing). However, the most important thing about this story is that it was the
Merphy Napier
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics

I think this would be a thrilling and fun story for children and one that comes with some good opportunities for important discussions. That being said, the way the story was presented really didn't hold my attention well at all. It was okay the whole way through until the end. I found the way it turned out quite creepy and odd (view spoiler)
Maurice Sendak did the illustrations for this edition. I love them. They are quirky and what you expect from Maurice.

This is the full edition and it is night something you can read in a single bedtime story. This is long. This is also all about how things look. Is someone pretty or not. Marie sees the beauty on the inside over what is on the outside.

The nutcracker ballet focuses more on the candyland part of the story and the beauty there. The book spends much of the story on war - heaven help
”You’ll have to suffer a lot if you want to take charge of a poor, deformed Nutcracker. Only you can rescue him. Be strong and loyal.”

Synopsis: E.T.A. Hoffman forever ruins your favorite Christmas time ballet. Try overcoming this sucker, Tchaikovsky.

Wonderful Christian Entertainment This Is Not: Like a lot of people, my family and I watch The Nutcracker every Christmas, since it seems to be a holiday staple. However, either I’m totally missing something or I just wasn’t
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
The Nutcracker Prince, with Keifer Sutherland as the voice of Nutcracker, was one of my favorite childhood movies, and is still a favorite to this day. When I realized it was based on a short story that also inspired the ballet, obviously I had to read it.

I'm not a fan of Where the Wild Things Are, and I wasn't too impressed with Sendak's weird Labyrinth-like tale, Outside Over There (because there was no Jareth in it, obviously). But I wanted to read this version because Auntie J said it was

Book #4 in #CramaThon2015.

(Read a book under 200 pages.)
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 0-germany
Till now I've liked everything I've read by ETA Hoffmann and I don't understand why he isn't more known and read, seen also that he is important in literature seen that several important and more famous authors took inspiration from his works. What I above all like is his skill to mix magic, fantasy and reality and also a bit of creepiness. Till now in all his stories I was enraptured by this mix, that at the end I wasn't able to say what was true and what was magic. Also in this story, till the ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christmas
I read this book years ago, but since I am reviewing Christmas books that I am reading this year, I have added this.

Back in the 1970s my friend Cathy took me and her grandmother to see The Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco. It was the highlight of my Christmas and many to come. We did a lot of Christmas things when I lived in Berkeley. San Francisco was always great for looking in store windows to see the old fashion Christmas displays and Union Square was always lit up. And then we enjoyed the
Nov 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I love my edition with its wonderful introduction and Maurice Sendak illustrations. I love the music and the dancing that is the ballet. But there is something about this story that always creeps me out. It is not the many headed mouse king. No, its the whole ending bit. The story is about girl growing up, to a degree, except that it is rather strange because when she travel with her dream prince she dreams of a place any child would want. Than all of a sudden she is getting married to a little ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What little girl hasn’t been spellbound after seeing the magical wonders of the Nutcracker ballet and feeling the crescendo enthralling music of Tchaikovsky’s Op. 71 pulsing through the air? I certainly was. December 1967, my parents took me to see my first Nutcracker performance at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City. Continuing the tradition, I in turn took my daughters during the winter of their kindergarten years. And though I haven’t experienced a live performance since 1993, every ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it
While reading this for a Yule themed group read in the Into the Forest group I realised that I had never actually read this original version! I was surprised to find that it's much darker and creepier than the ballet. I then discovered that the ballet is actually based on a short story written by Alexandre Dumas!
I can't give a book where mice play such a large role more than 3 stars, but regardless this book is interesting to read if you're interested in
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture
This text is drawn from the Hoffman original, so it is a bit simpler than the ballet with which more of us today are familiar. Marie doesn't turn into a grown woman, there is only the slightest hint of romance, and the godfather is a kindly background figure rather than a threat.

Yana Sedova's illustrations were very pretty, although a bit heavy on the clockwork motif, which drops out of the story after the first few pages. Perhaps some kindly librarian could add her as the illustrator, as well
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book to read and to look at. There is more to the story than the ballet. A classic that I have never read before -- highly recommended, especially at Christmas.
Nostalgia Reader
4.5 stars.

December 2017:
I love all the imagery this brings to mind <3 The story-ception of this all really stood out to me this time, and how there are at least three worlds that are parallel, which definitely lends itself to symbolic analysis eventually. It can be sort of choppy and confusing at points, but that only adds to the weirdness of it all. I still remain convinced that Baum was slightly inspired by this for the Oz stories; this time around, in addition to seeing the fairyland as a
classic reverie
All my life I heard about "The Nutcracker" but never really knew anything about it and certainly never heard of E.T.A. Hoffmann, though since coming to Goodreads, I have other stories of his on my list. Let me explain, during Christmastime when I was really little, I saw the store versions placed around the stores but we never owned one. I also knew there was a play; I have heard some of the music but I never saw the play or read this story. So when I saw this with some other Christmas offerings ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
My mom and I used to see this ballet nearly every winter, but I'd never read the original story. I loved seeing Sendak's illustrations accompanying it, and if I see the ballet again I'll have a thorough understanding of the backstory!
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the ballet and now I love the book too.

This story is just ok. It has inspired many many adaptions which are better than the original. I don't have any childhood connection to the Nutcracker so I don't have the same nostalgia others do. I'm glad I read it once but I wouldn't read it again.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Let's return to Christmas time for a moment with the last book I read in 2016 (while my dad was suffering from influenza, and I myself had a cold and was in bed throughout Christmas with chocolate pralines, so perfect time for something light), and the last book from that year I'm going to review. The story of the Nutcracker is best known as the Tchaikovsky ballet, which in turn is based on Alexandre Dumas père's adaptation of Hoffmann's story. The ballet's gorgeous music and the beautiful sets ...more
Oh lovely, lovely! I had no idea that the famous Tchaikovsky ballet was actually based on an adaption of Alexandre Dumas' (!) adaption of this fairytale by Hoffmann, neither did I have the slightest clue that Hoffmann wrote a fairytale like this; since so far I had only read his 'Nachtstücke' including The Sandman, as well as some other weird tales.

The story follows seven-year-old Marie, who is given a wooden (though not very pretty looking) nutcracker from her Godfather Drosselmeyer for
“Since, dear Marie, you love Friend Nutcracker so much, you must shield and shelter him especially.”

Enjoyment Rate - 62%
Story - 14%
Characters - 6%
Total - 82%
Rating -

What a more perfect time to read Hoffman’s The Nutcracker than in Christmas Eve? I am so glad I decided to read this right before Christmas because it certainly adds to the experience and it did improve my festive mood. I enjoyed reading this book and I flew through it in one sitting. I have not watched the film or the ballet
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my second time reading this book. I read if for school in 6th grade, all the 6th grade English classes read it and then we got to go see a production of the Ballet. This is one of my favorite stories and definitely my favorite ballet. I enjoyed rereading this book.
3.5 Mysterious Nutcracker Stars.

Of all the adaptations I've been aware of for this story over the years, like theater plays and ballets, I never actually read the original literature that spurred on all of the retellings of this rather dark children's tale, until now.

It tells the story of a 7 year old girl named Maria Stahlbaum who spends Christmas with her family, and a Nutcracker is one of the family gifts. Maria is quickly intrigued by the toy/nutcracker, and is a bit heartbroken when its jaw
Coral Davies
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly one of the more insane children's stories I have ever read. A very enjoyable, sweet tale of a little girl and a nutcracker and how she helped him to defeat a 7-headed mouse king tyrant.

In parts the translation was confusing - the author kept altering who he was speaking to, wavering from "my dear audience" to "attentive Fritz" and "young dear Marie" etc and often the exchanges between characters would be illogical i.e. Marie watches princesses make sweets and wants to join in. But the
Weird story, and with a seriously creepy finale, if you ask me.
A bit long, better or older children. Lovely illustrations and story.
Nathan Burgoine
Listening to this reminded me how much I find a lot of classical Children's stories to be so... cruelly unfair to children. Maria/Marie is always so completely dismissed. Fred/Fritz is constantly shamed. And at the end, the reward for being steadfast and loving is a child marriage in an imaginary kingdom.

It's a lovely story in many places, and the imagery is sort of dreamy (I love the trip to the land of sweets and dolls) as much as it is dark, and certainly there's a good message in there about
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I definitely enjoyed this story but I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. I never really have been super familiar with the story of the Nutcracker, so it was really interesting reading how it all came about. The first 75% is really pretty dark and the end is light and fun. I picked it up after seeing the new Nutcracker movie by Disney (I liked the movie better) and it was a quick and fun read.
Sue K H
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't seen the Nutcraker ballet since I was a child. When I investigated the ballet for an upcoming performance, and found out that Alexander Dumas wrote the version that Tchaikovsky was inspired by, I had to get a copy. I love everything about this edition. The cover is beautiful and reading it was a delight.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Suffolk bookclub: Nutcracker - E. T. A Hoffman 4 5 Jan 03, 2019 10:05AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add details to book edition 7 225 Dec 27, 2018 05:55AM  
Into the Forest: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King - NO spoilers 54 52 Jan 08, 2017 01:09AM  
Goodreads Librari...: editions issues 2 20 Sep 28, 2016 10:55AM  
Goodreads Librari...: add page count 2 9 Sep 24, 2016 08:40PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Publisher error duplicating ISBN, how to handle 8 28 Feb 12, 2016 03:31PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Night Before Christmas
  • The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights
  • A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories
  • The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)
  • The Fir Tree
  • The Snow Queen
  • The Nutcracker
  • The Nutcracker
  • Letters from Father Christmas
  • Cinderella
  • Christmas Trolls
  • الفأرة البيضاء
  • The Seeds of Peace
  • Wolf! Wolf!
  • The Two Brothers
  • The Fish of Our Fathers
  • Christmas at Thompson Hall and Other Christmas Stories
See similar books…
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, better known by his pen name E. T. A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann), was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's famous opera The Tales of Hoffmann, in which Hoffman appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of ...more
“In all probability, the man who found the horoscope would also catch Nut and Nutcracker. They had to believe all the more strongly in the astrologer’s new forecast since none of his predictions had ever come true. Sooner or later, his prognoses had to be right, given that the king, who could never be wrong, had made him his Grand Augur.” 3 likes
“Ah!” Marie finally exclaimed. “Ah! Dear Father! Who owns that darling little man over on the tree there?” “He,” the father answered. “He, dear child, should work hard for all of us. He should crack the hard nuts for us nicely. And he should belong to Luise as much as he belongs to you and to Fritz.” The father then removed him cautiously from the table and, raising the wooden cape aloft, the manikin opened his mouth wide, wide, and showed two rows of very sharp, very tiny white teeth. When told to do so, Marie inserted a nut and—Crack! Crack!—he chewed up the nut, so that the shell dropped away, and the sweet kernel itself ended up in Marie’s hand. By now, everyone, including Marie, had to know that the dainty little man was an offspring of the dynasty of Nutcrackers and was practicing his profession. She shouted for joy, but then her father spoke: “Since, dear Marie, you love Friend Nutcracker so much, you must shield and shelter him especially, even despite the fact that, as I have said, Luise and Fritz have as much right to use him as you!” 1 likes
More quotes…