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The Nutcracker

By ET A Hoffmann

Retold by Susanne Koppe, translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Many people are familiar with the ballet The Nutcracker but few have read the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman. For nearly two hundred years, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale of the Nutcracker has enchanted readers, inspired artists and composers, and delighted audiences around the world.
E.T.A. Hoffman (1776 – 1822), was himself a man of many artistic talents – composer, conductor, artist and writer and a leading figure in the German Romantic movement. Lisbeth Zwerger, winner of the Hans christian Andersen Medal and many other awards has illustrated many famous tales in her illustrious career including Swan Lake and A Christmas Carol.
This edition with Lisbeth Zwerger’s stunning, all-new interpretation is, adapted from the original Hoffmann tale as the original story is too long for this format, although the humour, fantasy and word music has been preserved as much as possible.
There is a delicious interweaving of dream and reality, fantasy and fact as Marie lies sick in bed, playing with her toys. Here we learn much more than the story of the ballet as the background of the feud between the Nutcracker and the seven-headed Mouse King is revealed. The real villain is Mistress Mousie who casts a spell on Princess Pirlipat and whose son takes revenge. We discover the true role of the mysterious Drosselmeier when the spell is finally broken by loyal Marie, and the satisfying, happily-ever-after conclusion to the great battle and fantastic journey.
In pictures filled with drama, mystery, and humour, Lisbeth Zwerger transports us to the darkest reaches and brightest beauty of this fairy-tale world. Her work is delicate and powerful simultaneously.  There is a surprising lot of text so this beautiful book would be a magical read aloud for the younger children and something that older readers of 8+ can enjoy for themselves.
A perfect gift for lovers of ballet and story.
North South Books 2016


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