cover image The Nutcracker Doll

The Nutcracker Doll

Mary Newell DePalma, Author . Scholastic/Levine $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-439-80242-0

After seeing her first performance of The Nutcracker, Kepley pays “extra special attention” in ballet class, and she herself auditions for the production the following fall. She has to wait a whole week for the letter “from the ballet” that tells her she's landed a part. So what if it involves standing stock-still? (“Suppose you have to sneeze?” asks Kepley's mother.) DePalma's straightforward text and streamlined, representational watercolor illustrations look simple, but they incorporate the details that authenticate the story and make readers feel like insiders: the girls giggling at rehearsal, dancers in costume taking pictures of each other, the signs in the costume room. There's plenty of warmth here, too, from an older dancer's whispered “Good job!” after Kepley completes her first performance, to her utter joy in her small part. Neatly turned. Ages 4-8. (Sept. )