"The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker"

Believe it or not, Christmas is two weeks away! In the spirit of the season I purchased tickets to see “The Nutcracker” next week, and in order to get Jack excited about the show, my wife bought him an interactive book: “The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker” by Katy Flint and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle. I was immediately impressed. It’s not only visually beautiful but it also plays music from the show—without any bulky pages! I have no idea what technology it uses because it’s not like the awkward Hallmark greeting cards I’m familiar with. In any case, it’s been a hit in our house.

“The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker” by Katy Flint (adapter) and illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle ($13.99 on Amazon)

Here’s the description direct from Amazon:

“Follow Clara on a magical Christmas adventure in this musical retelling of The Nutcracker ballet—push the button on each beautiful scene to hear the vivid sound of an orchestra playing from Tchaikovsky’s score.

“It is Christmas Eve at Clara’s house. Scents of ginger, chocolate, and peppermint waft through the air. Clara’s parents are having a party, and her little brother Fritz is decorating the Christmas tree. Clara’s godfather, a toymaker, arrives with gifts, including a very special one for her—a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man. After Fritz breaks it, the children are sent to bed.

“The story follows Clara in her dreams as she battles and defeats a mouse king, then travels with her nutcracker-turned-prince to the Land of Sweets where she watches its enchanting inhabitants perform beautiful dances. As you and your little one journey through the magical scenes, you will press the buttons to hear 10 excerpts from the ballet’s music, including ‘The Waltz of the Flowers,’ ‘The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,’ ‘The Russian Dance,’ and the awesome ‘Finale.’

“At the back of the book, find a short biography of the composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, with details about his composition of The Nutcracker ballet. Next to this, you can replay the musical excerpts and, for each of them, read a discussion of the instruments, rhythms, and musical techniques that make them so powerful. A glossary defines musical terms.

“The Story Orchestra series brings classical music to life for children through gorgeously illustrated retellings of classic ballet stories paired with 10-second sound clips of orchestras playing from their musical scores.”


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