The Night Before the Nutcracker (American Ballet Theatre)

Doubleday. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593180914.
PreS-Gr 3–This picture book collaboration with the American Ballet Theatre serves as an introduction to and celebration of the classic holiday ballet. In rhymed couplets, a group of ballet students makes their stage debut alongside a professional company. True to tradition, the young dancers have special roles in the ballet. Backstage preparations lead to curtain time, followed by a light-handed overview of the ballet’s characters and plot, with mentions of the stagecraft that brings them to life. Illustrations are charmingly detailed, featuring dancers and children of multiple skin tones. The softly candy-colored palette helps conjure the magical Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and sparkly snowflakes sprinkled throughout the pages add to the wintertime whimsy. Though “The Nutcracker” is well known as a Christmas ballet, the book makes little mention of the holiday specifically. Brief back matter presents the ballet’s artistic credits and a summary of each scene, plus renderings of selected costumes. This title is perfect for sharing with young audience members preparing to see the ballet for the first time, or for those wishing to imagine the wonder from home.
VERDICT Recommended for holiday collections, or for enjoyment year-round where “Angelina Ballerina” and other ballet-themed picture books are popular.

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