This was first posted in November 2011 on my old blog.

Title: Woodland Nutcracker

Author: retold by Avril Tyrrell

Illustrator:  Frances Tyrrell

Publisher: Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1999

 

Genre: Picture book, Fiction, retelling of classic story

Audience Age: 5 and up

Theme: Imagination, ballet, animals

Opening Sentences: Long ago, far away from highways and city lights, where bright stars touched the tree tops and forest roots touched the edges of frozen lakes, a woodland family welcomed relatives and friends to a Christmas Eve party in their cosy island home.

Synopsis: This retelling of the familiar Nutcracker story is set in a woodland den in Canada, and features Clara, a small bear and her family. Clara dreams she is whisked off to Ursa Major, and the events of the familiar Nutcracker Ballet unfold, with dances enacted by different species of bear from around the world.

Activities/Resources: I was surprised that I didn’t find any ready-made activities or resources on the internet, but the book certainly lends itself to educational applications. For children who are going to attend the Nutcracker Ballet for the first time, or who are familiar with the story, it would be a delightful way to start a discussion of how the stories are the same, and how they are different. The different species of bear featured, for example, Spectacled Bears, Grizzly Bears, Polar Bears, could be the backdrop of a study of the different species themselves, as well as a lead-in to studying something of the countries that they are from. The importance of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor in the story could facilitate a look at constellations, and what their names mean and why.

This book is available in libraries, or from the illustrator’s Etsy site. Read more and see some of the wonderful illustrations on her blog.

# 2 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her Perfect Picture Books page.

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