Tuesday, December 19, 2017
The Nutcracker in Harlem
First sentence: It was snowing in Harlem on Christmas Eve. The party at Marie's house swirled with colors, gold and red and green. Mama and Poppy were dancing. Miss Addie sang, and Uncle Cab played the piano. Marie loved the sound of Christmas.
Premise/plot: This picture book is an adaptation of The Nutcracker. In this adaptation, the story is set in Harlem during the 1920s. Marie, the heroine, is a bit shy or hesitant; she hasn't found her confidence yet to sing or dance, to join in the vibrant life of her family and community. All that will change one magical Christmas Eve.
This book would pair well with Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza. The two books set out to do different things. One is a retelling of a traditional story in a new setting. The other is based on a true story, of how Duke Ellington transformed the Nutcracker Suite into JAZZ.
But both celebrate LIVING LIFE. Even if you don't seek out this other picture book, do give Ellington's Nutcracker Suite a listen. I do think the music would provide a great soundtrack for McMorrow's picture book.
Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers