November 21, 2017

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Waltz of the Snowflakes by Elly MacKay |SLJ Review

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redstarMACKAY, Elly. Waltz of the Snowflakes. illus. by Elly MacKay. 32p. Running Pr. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762453382.

PreS-Gr 3 –This wordless picture book opens with Christmas just days away, but the only sign of holiday cheer is Gran’s holly leaf print dress and her excitement at having tickets to The Nutcracker. Granddaughter is far less enthused at having to venture out into the cold wet night and walk to the theater wearing fancy clothes (except for the high-tops on her feet—a nice touch). The situation is not improved when the boy who teases her in the lobby ends up sitting next to her. But then wisps of color come from the orchestra. The act one scene where Clara receives a nutcracker prince from Uncle Drosselmeyer vibrantly leaps from the page, and both boy and girl are enthralled by the music and the action. Bright backlighting makes MacKay’s paper-cut artwork look tangible, as if readers could peel the figures from the book and bring them to life. The absence of text allows the expressive illustrations to tell a multilayered story: the granddaughter’s progress from sullen reluctance to joy, her and the boy’s relationship of initial animosity to friendship, and, of course, the ballet’s plot. Even the title serves dual purposes as a nod to a movement in the show and the spontaneous dance between grandmother and granddaughter through the gently falling snow at the end. VERDICT Theatrical, magical, and very much of the season as seeing The Nutcracker itself.–Joanna Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal October 2017 issue.

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