cover image The Nutcracker & Mouseking

The Nutcracker & Mouseking

Renate Raecke, trans. from the German by Anthea Bell, illus. by Yana Sedova. Minedition (IPG, dist.), $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-988-8341-27-6

Raecke (The Fisherman and His Wife) impressively adapts Hoffmann’s original story of the Nutcracker, using evocative yet accessible language to bring the story to a picture book audience. On page after page, Russian artist Sedova, who illustrated a 2014 adaptation of The Snow Queen, fully embraces the magical events of young Marie Stahlbaum’s Christmas Eve, incorporating visual references to clockwork gears that reflect Godfather Drosselmeier’s mechanical talents, as well as mice, stars, candies, and other thematic elements. The battle scene never becomes too violent—curls of ribbon and bursts of paint abstractly suggest weapon fire—and Marie’s journey into Candytown and beyond with the transformed Nutcracker is full of intriguing images that readers will want to study closely. Raecke leaves readers with Marie’s realization that “the most truly marvelous things may be seen—if only people choose to look,” a message worth remembering throughout the year. Ages 5–7. (Oct.)