Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History

Charlotte Nebres with Sarah Warren, illus. by Alea Marley. Random House, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-37490-0

In this rhythmic narrative, Charlotte Nebres, the first Black dancer cast as Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, recounts her history learning ballet, her time auditioning for and then performing in The Nutcracker in 2019, and her family’s Christmas traditions. Writing from the third-person perspective, Nebres employs accessible prose that emphasizes the physical repetition necessary in ballet: “Charlotte travels straight into/ the wide-open joy of Christmas./ Toe, ball, heel./ Toe, ball, heel./ Toe, ball, heel.” Marley contributes warm, fine-lined digital spreads, filled with light and rendered in a seasonal palette of muted jewel tones. Though Nebres’s family traditions are portrayed without context, only quietly hinting at her Trinidadian and Filipinx roots, themes of persistence and representation as inspiration should open relevant conversations with young readers. An author’s note concludes. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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