cover image Noelle of the Nutcracker

Noelle of the Nutcracker

Jan Brett, Pamela Jane. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-395-39969-9

Jane's first book magically captures the dreams-can-come-true atmosphere of the holiday season. Ilyana and Mary Jane, second grade rivals, both fall in love with the same ballerina doll in a shop window. Mary Jane vows her rich father will get it for her, while Ilyana despairs. The doll, Noelle, doesn't want to be owned by anyoneshe dreams of being on stage. It is her dream that comes true first, when she is used as one of ""Clara's'' props in a production of The Nutcracker. In the meantime, Ilyana and Mary Jane prepare for the class Christmas pageant. Ilyana dresses up like Noelle, and her performance is spotted by her teacher's fiancethe propman from The Nutcracker who wants Noelle to belong to a little girl. Ilyana finds Noelle under her Christmas tree. The series of coincidences never seem strained; Jane is a skillful storyteller. Readers may wish Brett's realistic pencil drawings were in color, but this is a lovely novella any time of the year. (7-10)