Children's Literature · Classics · Modern Fantasy · Review

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann

Nutcracker and Mouse KingSynopsis from Goodreads:

The Nutcracker is a Christmas story about a little girl named Maria and her wooden doll, the Nutcracker, who becomes alive to fight the evil seven-headed Mouse King.

This edition includes 20 illustrations by Artuš Scheiner and Ludwig Willem Reymert Wenckebach.


E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet, tells two stories: Maria’s adventures with the nutcracker and how Young Master Drosselmeier became the nutcracker. Louise, Fred and Maria receive wondrous gifts from Godfather Drosselmeier every Christmas. This Christmas they receive a nutcracker (Maria becomes its caretaker). Over the next several days, Maria witnesses a battle between the toys in the glass cabinet and the seven-headed mouse king’s army, hears the story of this nutcracker came to be, and meets the dreaded Mouse King.

This story is delightful. My main experience with the Nutcracker is various versions of the ballet, including the Barbie movie. I see how the ballet is based on it, but the story is still pretty different from the dance adaptation. Three examples: (1) the ballet has a single-headed Mouse King, (2) there is no Princess Pirlipat in any ballet I have seen, (3) the story does not mention other children being present at the Christmas party. I like finding the original stories that are the basis of adaptations.

One theme I found in this story is an encouragement to honor one’s commitments. Another is that people will sacrifice all of their possessions for the ones they love.

I loved the beautiful illustrations by Artus Scheiner and L.W.R. Wenckebach. The calligraphy chosen is perfect for the setting and for it being a children’s classic. The only way to change the size of the letters and pictures is to zoom in and out. I was disappointed that I couldn’t bookmark any of the pages and that there is no way to go to a specific chapter.

An overall beautiful book and tale for people of all ages, this e-book is best read at Christmas.

Genre: Children’s classic

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars


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