A young mouse must save her production of The Nutcracker in a charming holiday tale from the author of The Gingerbread Pirates and the illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Hidden in Saint Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theater are the world’s tiniest ballet fans: the Mariinsky mice, including Esmeralda, a rising dancer in the Russian Mouse Ballet Company. Despite being unable to control her tail, Esmeralda has just been assigned the lead role of Clara in a ballet debuting at Christmas: The Nutcracker. But when she learns that the new ballet features mice as villains, her excitement turns to horror: the mice of Saint Petersburg will never come to see such a production. Meanwhile, nine-year-old Irina is convinced that the mice she’s seen in the Mariinsky — the mice her father, the custodian, is supposed to exterminate — are not only fans of the ballet, but dancers themselves. No one will believe her, so it falls to Irina to help save the mice everyone else considers vermin . . . and perhaps to help Esmeralda ensure the future of the mouse company. Sweet and inventive, Kristin Kladstrup’s ballet fantasy features artwork by beloved illustrator Brett Helquist, old-fashioned drama, and just a touch of holiday magic.
About the Author
Kristin Kladstrup is the author of the middle-grade novels The Book of Story Beginnings and Garden Princess, as well as the picture book The Gingerbread Pirates. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Brett Helquist has illustrated numerous books for children, including Chasing Vermeer and its sequels by Blue Balliett and Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports by Phil Bildner. Brett Helquist lives in New York.
Helquist's full-page panels in shades of black are delightfully expressive and are filled with charming details. Dance, drama, and a star turn make this a page-turning tale. —Kirkus Reviews
Helquist’s jubilant illustrations greatly enhance the book’s appeal...a very sweet and enjoyable Christmas read. —School Library Journal
Brett Helquist’s black-and-white drawings (usually one per chapter) bring the mice and their activities to life, and a subplot involving nine-year-old human child Irina adds to the book’s appeal. With a forward summarizing the original Nutcracker and an afterword recapping Esmeralda’s mouse-centric version, this is perfect for balletomanes and mice fans alike. —Booklist
Irina’s and Esmeralda’s story lines are individually engaging, and their overlapping moments are warmhearted. Copious illustrations (seen only as sketches) enhance both mouse and human worlds. —The Horn Book
A sweet middle grade book about the world’s tiniest ballet fans living in Saint Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theater. —BookRiot Newsletter
Kladstrup has crafted a marvelous plot and colorful characters, a humorous and dead-on depiction of mouse-style ballet (Esmeralda is constantly being scolded for failing to properly control her tail) and a wonderful setting of 1890s St. Petersburg, as experienced by mice, with its back alleys, bakeries, the wonders of Nevsky Prospect and the nooks and crannies of the Mariinsky. Tchaikovsky himself has a pivotal cameo. Helquist's illustrations are marvelous. —Buffalo News
This sweet, nostalgic tale evokes the thrilling joy of dance and music, and shows that such a feeling is universal in all creatures, big and small. —BookPage