This is my first time reading an Ella Bella story; I loved this story for several reasons. First, it was about a ballerina and “The Nutcracker” story. The character is well-developed as is the plot. For the unaware, this ballet story takes place at Christmas time. There are many famous characters such as the Mouse King, Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in this story. What is different is the story deviates from the original plot enough for readers to make comparisons. The only problem I foresee is the possibility adults think this book is geared towards a girl. There is a lot of pink and only one male in Ella Bella’s class. However, if one approaches it open-minded, one can show to the young male reader in the real Nutcracker, there are many male parts.
Second, as a former educator, I appreciated how this book plays to several age groups. Tykes as young as three or four can enjoy this book as the pictures match the words on either facing page as an adult reads aloud. This means children can follow along fairly easily. There is a lot of detail in the illustrations just as there are many words on the pages and the vocabulary selected has an even amount of short words as there are long. For instance, younger tots can pick up the vocabulary by listening; and with an adult nearby, they can ask questions if they don’t understand.
Yet, this storybook equally screams for an independent school-age reader with the detailed illustrations and more advanced vocabulary to test an eight or nine year old. The publishers certainly put a lot of thought into this story becoming a childhood favorite by making this a hardback book with semi-glossy, slightly-thicker-than-average pages, guaranteed to survive one or more young readers’ appetites.
Last point, at the back of the book, there is an adult (or more grown-up) explanation of the Nutcracker and its’ evolution; thus aiding any reader looking for more information while providing additional opportunities to further explore. This explains why I’m going to look at the rest of the “Ella Bella Ballerina” series (also listed in back of the book).
Christmas is coming, and Madame Rosa has prepared a surprise party for her ballet class. "Ella Bella, would you fetch the music box?" asks Madame Rosa. "Then we can have some dancing at our party." As the music begins playing, little Ella Bella is magically transported into the enchanting, festive world of The Nutcracker ballet. There, she meets the beautiful Clara and her wooden Nutcracker doll. Together, Ella and Clara must fight off the evil Mouse King so they can break the evil spell that has transformed a handsome prince into the Nutcracker doll. When the spell is broken and the prince comes to life, he leads Clara and Ella to a magic forest where they dance to the music of the famous Nutcracker ballet. On the last page of this beautifully illustrated story, young readers learn about the origins of The Nutcracker ballet, its music written in 1892 by the composer Piotr Tchaikovsky for Russia's famous Imperial Ballet.