The nutcracker by Hoffman, retold by Margrete Lamond
Ill. by Ritva Voutila. Little Hare Books, 2015. ISBN 9781742977782
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended, Classic tale, Friendship, Christmas. When her parents' good friend, Mr Drosselmeier gives Marie and her brother a nutcracker for Christmas, Marie loves the little figure. Her impatient brother throws it in the corner when one of his big teeth is cracked, but Marie cradles him and puts him in the special place with her other toys.
Unbeknownst to her, Mr Drosselmeier has given the figure to Marie for a reason, one he cannot tell anyone. He once built a mousetrap so well that all the mice in the town had been trapped and removed from the place. The mice then cursed his nephew and only he knows what can take away that curse.
When Marie is about to go to bed, mice invade the room with her toys, demanding she feed them or they will eat up her nutcracker. She complies but when she runs out of food, she turns to see the nutcracker and the other toys lined up to defeat the mice. A grateful nutcracker leads her up the stairs where he disappears.
She wakes the next morning, confused and upset to see that her nutcracker has gone. But Mr Drosselmeier returns that day with his nephew and Marie realises who he is and takes him as her friend.
This beautiful story of friendship is complemented with Voutila's magical illustrations, representing a rich Victorian scene with an amazing array of fabrics, furniture, food, toys, jewelry and wallpaper to take in. Each page is covered in little things to pick out, each page adds a sumptuous background to the tale.
This is a beautiful story to read at Christmas, reminding children that love and friendship are precious and will outlive all the toys they are given, although the wonderful illustrations will have children astonished at the range of presents given these children.