Sunday 12 January 2014

Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker

Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker by James Mayhew (Orchard/Hachette)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: 9781408314081
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
James Mayhew has created and beautifully illustrated a charming story inspired by the famous Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. Ella Bella Ballerina is once again central to this third ballet-themed story which willl undoubtedly delight all small girls who love to dance. Previous picture books are Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty and Ella Bella and Cinderella.
The snowy winter setting of the story features the old theatre where Ella Bella's classes are taught by Madame Rosa. The stage is dominated by a shimmering Christmas Tree and Madame Rosa's special music box has the dancers twirling around like snowflakes. The children become enthralled by the Christmas Eve story of Clara and the enchanted Nutcracker and the nasty Mouse King who has cast the spell.
While the other children are led into a room with tables groaning with delicious sweets, Ella Bella dances alone to the musical box and suddenly finds herself with Clara as her partner dancing in the Nutcracker story. When Clara defeats the Mouse King, the spell over the Nutcracker is broken to reveal a handsome young prince who whisks Clara and Ella Bella off to his kingdom on a magic sleigh. Dancing with snowflakes, meeting the Sugar Plum Fairy and attending an extraordinary party at the Marzipan Palace all happen before suddenly Ella Bella is once again alone on the stage.
Madame Rosa takes Ella Bella into the party room where great plates of sugary treats await her, including one very special item for readers to discover.
Facts about The Nutcracker ballet are told on the last page which complete this dazzling picture book text. The retro art-style is perfect for creating the atmosphere of a classic ballet theatre and its dancers, and will inspire and delight many a would-be prima ballerina.

This picture book may be themed around Christmas but it is perfect for any ballet enthusiast to begin the New Year.

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