25 Days – Book 4: The Nutcracker

Our fourth book of the 25 Days of Christmas Books is a classic and beloved story, The Nutcracker. Some brief research revealed that this story has a long history and various adaptations, so I’m going to highlight my simple Golden Book copy and encourage the use of whatever version you’ve come to own and love. My book is from 1991 and was written by Rita Balducci and illustrated by Barbara Lanza.

This is the story of a little German girl named Clara who receives a nutcracker from her magical godfather at a party, turning her evening into a frightful and beautiful night of fighting large rodents and celebratory dancing.

I received this book when I was 8 after going to see The Nutcracker Ballet with my mom. It was a thrilling time and this book has always been commemorative of that special event. It is a very condensed version of the ballet, but the pictures are quite lovely and for a child, the simple retelling is perfect. Just enough fighting and plenty of elaborate and beautiful costumes for this little girl’s heart.

Still my favorite illustration of this book!

I know practically nothing about Rita Balducci except she seems to be quite the adapter. She is quite skilled as an editor for these famously well-known stories. If anyone knows any more about her, please reveal!

Barbara Lanza is also a new name to me. She seems to be quite talented in detailed illustrations of fantastical creatures such as fairies, elves and mermaids. While her work in this book is not monumental like her more recent work, it is lovely in detail and color and adds great beauty to such a pretty story.

Anyone else have fond memories of The Nutcracker? What other versions exist in children’s book form? I would love to see more and varied illustrations of it.

Follow along our book adventure at 25 Days of Christmas Books.

2 thoughts on “25 Days – Book 4: The Nutcracker

  1. Hi, Caryn,
    How nice to learn you’ve commemorated seeing that special ballet by saving the edition of The Nutcracker I illustrated. My children were younger than you were at the time and both came down, one after the other, with the chicken pox, complicating the already short deadline. Happily, the children recovered and, after late nights, the book got done and my daughter grew to dance in the Nutcracker and other ballets.
    It was long after the publication of my version that I learned the daughter of an illustrator friend took it to college with her. Often, illustrators don’t know how their work impacts others or for how long, so thanks to a Google Alert of my name, I came across your post.
    Best wishes for your own work as an illustrator.


    1. Oh! How wonderful to hear from you! Thanks for checking out my blog. I really treasured this book as a child and it is so lovely to connect with the people who helped shape my childhood.

      I also just realized that you illustrated one of the Christmas books we just read to my daughter, Baby’s Christmas. She loves that one!

      Thanks for all the work you’ve given the children’s book world and for stopping by here.


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