Grand Jeté and Me

HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062392022.
K-Gr 3–A little girl is off to see her grandmother, known affectionately as Grand Jeté. Grand Jeté is a former prima ballerina and brings theatricality and chic extravagance to everything she does with her granddaughter, from bowing to vendors in the street to practicing the perfect flower toss for the end of a performance. After getting dressed up in special holiday ensembles, the duo heads to the New York City Ballet to see the iconic George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Following the rousing and nostalgic performance, Grand Jeté tells the little girl that she could one day follow in her own prima ballerina footsteps as they dance out of the theater. Readers unfamiliar with the plot of The Nutcracker gain a brief understanding of the story, but it may work better as a refresher than as a primer for new audiences. The little girl is uniformly thrilled by absolutely everything, which leaves the impression that her character is chiefly a vessel for the more developed Grand Jeté’s remembrances of her own days as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Disappointingly, few people of color are present in the audience and on stage. Back matter includes a note from author Kent, sharing her own history with The Nutcracker and a touching tribute to George Balanchine, as well as a glossary of the ballet terms used in the text such as plié and chassé.
VERDICT This is an easy additon to holiday collections, certain to appeal to Nutcracker fans and balletomanes.

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