Review Blog

Nov 19 2019

A guinea pig nutcracker by Alex Goodwin

cover image

Photography by Phillip Beresford. Guinea Pig Classics series. Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781635574500.
(Age: 3-8) Recommended. Themes: The Nutcracker, Guinea pigs, Christmas, Classic stories. This is part of the Guinea Pig Classics series, in which Classic stories such as Pride and prejudice and A Christmas carol are told using photographs of dressed-up and staged guinea pigs. It's a curious concept but one that will introduce a new generation of young children to some of the best-loved and enduring stories of the modern world. It is presented, fittingly, as a performance, starting with an audience address: 'Dear members of the audience, please take your seats. Tonight's performance of The Nutcracker is about to begin'. Italics cleverly alert the reader to the musical accompaniment: 'The double bass rumbles', 'Ting! Ting! Ting!' The text itself is short, fast-paced and focused on the action. We are even told of the ballet moves being performed, putting glorious images in the mind of swift-footed guinea pigs(!): 'They perform effortless pirouettes, their feet barely touching the ground.' After the story is a list of the guinea pig performers and their photographs (as you would find in a performance program) as well as a very short history of the Nutcracker ballet.
The small format of the book suits the cuteness of the concept perfectly and little animal lovers will adore the beautifully dressed up guinea pigs in their crowns and top hats, not to mention the land of sweets! This is a great introduction to the Nutcracker story, especially for little ballet dancers or for reading before seeing the play.
Nicole Nelson

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