Picture Book Review: Nutcracker Night by Mireille Messier & Gabrielle Grimard

Review: Nutcracker Night by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Pajama Press. Thank you!
Publication: September 27, 2019 (Canadian publication date)
Book Description:

Beep! Beep! go the taxis. Voof! go the velvet curtains. The Nutcracker ballet and New York City’s David H. Koch Theater come to life in this onomatopoeic representation of a little girl’s experience at the ballet. From the swish of her dress and the tick-tick-tick of the conductor’s baton to the twelve bongs of the clock and the pitter-patter of dancers’ feet, this special evening is filled with sensory treats for the eyes and especially the ears. And did she enjoy the ballet? The answer is a big smooch on her father’s cheek.

Written by Mireille Messier, Nutcracker Night is a celebration of a Christmas classic that is often a child’s first experience of the ballet. Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard infuses each scene with warm holiday colours and a richness that will make young readers feel they are really there. An author’s note enriches the text with further information and a brief summary of the famous ballet.

Swoosh! go the cars.
Beep! Beep! goes our taxi.
Pshhhh! goes the fancy fountain.
Swish! Swish! goes my frilly dress.

In Nutcracker Night, the Canadian team of author Mireille Messier and illustrator Gabrielle Grimard bring readers the magical story of children seeing an enthralling ballet performance of The Nutcracker at the famed David H. Koch Theater in New York City. A picture book tale that took me back to remembering my own first experience with the ballet- a performance of The Nutcracker!- Nutcracker Night is a cozy, lively read that tells the much-loved and much-recited story with a sweet and fresh perspective.

Spread from Nutcracker Night by Mireille Messier & Gabrielle Grimard via Pajama Press

Going back and forth between our young protagonists sitting in the audience and the stage performance of The Nutcracker, Nutcracker Night allows for two stories to unfold: that of the children’s delight with being at a ballet in a grand theatre, the excitement of intermission and sleeping theatre guests, with that of the actual ballet performance of The Nutcracker happening on stage. Readers get the pleasure of seeing the ballet performance through the animated eyes of the young theatre-goers, as particular (and famous!) scenes of the ballet (the the breaking of the Nutcracker! Godfather! the Mouse King! the Sugar Plum Fairy!) capture their attention and imagination. With the story’s emphasis on short, exuberant bursts of onomatopoetic language, Nutcracker Night allows for the incredibly warm, inviting and expressive illustrations by Grimard to really shine.

A great pick for the coming winter and Christmas season, Nutcracker Night’s noise-and-sound-based text in tandem with lush, cozy art makes for a joyful, perfect-for-reading-aloud experience. Readers who love picture books such as the rhythmic and sound-laden I Got the Christmas Spirit, or other charming versions of The Nutcracker by authors-illustrators such as Jack and Holman Wang (a board book version), or Valeria Docampo and New York City Ballet, might especially delight in the genuine wonder and felicity on display in Messier and Grimard’s Nutcracker Night. Note: For readers interested, do not miss the note at the book’s end which provides some of the history and story behind The Nutcracker!

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Pajama Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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