The Nutcracker Illustrated by Valeria Docampo and Based on the New York City Ballet production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

[Reviewed from copy received courtesy of Simon & Schuster]


For those of us who wish we could go to the ballet and see The Nutcracker every night, here is the book we’ve been waiting for.

From celebrated and prolific illustrator, Valeria Docampo, comes a picture book of The Nutcracker that is based on the ballet that is based on the original story by E. T. A. Hoffman. (If you’re curious about the original story, you can read it online.)

There appears to be over 1,755 Worldcat search results of The Nutcracker in printed book form alone, so you know that if they’re going to take the time to produce another version it had better be amazing. Docampo’s modern and yet completely romantic interpretation completely delivers and is a welcome and enchanting addition.

Docampo’s unique and instantly recognizable style is always elegant and absolutely stunning from Dangerously Ever After to The Three Little Tamales, she is incredible. This version of The Nutcracker reflects and embodies the lines and grace of ballet along with the warm and festive feelings of the holidays. It’s exactly as if Docampo watched the ballet with you and then was able to pinpoint each moment when you were hit with awe. She then takes those moments and magically fits them into a picture book so that you can relive those moments whenever you want.

If you’re looking to pique children’s interest in The Nutcracker ballet, prepare them to go see it in person, or have already seen it and want to recreate or discuss the experience with them – this is a perfect picture book to read with them.


From The Nutcracker.  Illustrated by Valeria Docampo 2016. Image Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

At first I wasn’t sure if my eldest son would be interested in The Nutcracker.  This version has no dogs, vehicles, superheros, Star Wars Jedi, Legos, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, monsters, robots, or anything Minecraft in it.  But I had forgotten two important things: All the candy and the dramatic battle with the Mouse King that ensues.  He was thrilled!  (So, technically there is a superhero and a villain in it.)


From The Nutcracker. Illustrated by Valeria Docampo 2016. Image Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

My eldest has asked me to read it to him many times and I’ll find him sitting on the couch reading it by himself. The Nutcracker at Christmas is something I’ve always had, so I have taken it for granted.  But it was so much fun to read it to him for the first time and to get to share and see the wonder and excitement in his eyes. I made me remember how incredible this ballet is and see why it is performed every single year by ballet companies all around the world.

I vaguely remember seeing The Nutcracker when I was little girl, and after reading the book with my eldest son I called my mom to ask her where I saw it as a child.  To my surprise, I found out that I saw it at Ford’s Theater.  So then I got to tell my son that I saw The Nutcracker in the same theater where Lincoln was assassinated, which is an oddly grim story to share with him, but certainly a memorable way to connect to history and to The Nutcracker.

He was very interested to learn that this is based on a ballet and asked if we could go see it. I’ve promised him we’ll go see it next year when his little brother is older. He is genuinely excited about it and has mentioned to me several times about getting to see it next Christmas.

He came home from school one day and excitedly said, “My music teacher has the same book! She read it to us!  And she likes it, too!”  It was fun to see him have that connection to the book and his excitement about it.

At the end of the book are some fun facts about The Nutcracker ballet and a bit about how it was created, who created it, when it premiered, and a link to the to learn more.

I hope you get a chance to experience this incredible version of The Nutcracker for yourself and have an opportunity to share it with someone you love for the first time. It’s a gorgeous experience that surprises and delights!


From The Nutcracker. Illustrated by Valeria Docampo 2016. Image Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Recommended Ages 3 to 8. Little Simon. September 2016. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-1481458290 Fiction.

Where to Get it:

Author and Illustrator Websites:

More Reviews:

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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