LAUREL, MARYLAND: Every year when Christmas music starts playing, the carousel of musical classics and favorites fill the airwaves, the stores, and television commercials. Some songs are more modern. Others are catchy to sing along too. But almost everyone can relate to music from The Nutcracker stuck in their head at some point.
The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky
Whether it is “The Waltz of the Flowers,” “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” or the “Overture,” The Nutcracker has been a Christmas classic since the ballet debuted in 1892. Its popularity spread from St. Petersburg to the rest of Europe and across the ocean.
For those who love the ballet, or at least its music, and want to share that love with children, Scholastic has a new book to help do that – I Love The Nutcracker: My First Sound Book.
Illustrator Marion Billet added colorful pictures to six of the most famous songs from the ballet. Clara is a bunny. The Nutcracker, who is a bear, sits next to an unwrapped box, while other gifts arrive. Bunny Clara and bear Nutcracker then travel together through the rest of the book. Pandas perform the “Chinese Dance” while Clara and the nutcracker hide in a large teapot.
They float over an onion-domed building in a hot air balloon watching the “Russian Dance’” A line of animals dance with flutes in their hands in “Dance of the Mirlitons.” In “Flower Waltz” tiny dog fairies flit about a garden. The Sugarplum Fairy is a deer in ballet slippers and a dress.
Each scene has a question or prompts to engage children in the pictures. The touch buttons on each page play a short excerpt of each one of the famous songs mentioned above. There is an on-off switch under a flap at the back of the book on the battery compartment.
Parents concerned about hearing the same 15 seconds of trilling flutes or whirling strings endlessly can switch off the book (or even remove the batteries). The audio quality is also impressive. It is not the strained, canned sounds that come from most audio board books. The excerpts of the track are clear, and the Slovakian Philharmonic Orchestra performed the music on the recordings.
In homes where The Nutcracker is an annual tradition, this book is sure to have a place on the shelves.
The Dance of the Suger Plum Fairy
I Love The Nutcracker: My First Sound Book, illustrated by Marion Billet, was published on September 25, 2018 by Scholastic Press. It is a sound story board book, but may be classified as a novelty book. It is recommended for ages 0-3.