Sugar plums and candy canes dance among the snowy branches and the gold plated text of the hard front cover of The Story Orchestra’s The Nutcracker. The abundance of detail reminds you of a hidden objects game.  You can spend your time looking for a jack-in-the-box, or a lollipop, or ornaments— before the book is even opened.

When you finally do, you can almost swear the smell of pine and sound of Christmas cheer wafts from the pages. And music indeed rises to your ears! As the story unfolds, Tchaikovsky’s  ballet rings in short little riffs. They are  set off by the buttons on each page, giving you a taste of each theme, but leaving you in desire of seeking out the full orchestral arrangement. But make sure you take the little tab in back off before starting the story.

Each STORY ORCHESTRA: THE NUTCRACKER page feels like a special Christmas treat.

Vibrant colors and traditional Russian Folk motifs make up the majority of the illustrations. The characters of The Nutcracker come to life with each turn of the page: Clara and Fritz, and the Mice King and Uncle Drosselmeyer, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and of course, the Nutcracker-turned-Prince, himself. The story, based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s fairytale, was made famous by Russian born composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky at the end of the 19th century. The music was composed for an orchestra.  It included a new instrument called a celesta, which is what gives Sugar Plum Fairy Dance a light, magical and sparkly sound. These facts and others can be found at the end of the book, as well as a short biography of the composer.

A Christmas Classic that delights the young and the old.

Flipping through the pages with an 8 year-old can be quite the magical experience, in this writer’s view. There have been numerous renditions of this story in film and theatre, but for a child to read The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, invents a whole universe. The blanks get filled with side storylines.  Battles with giant mice become epic sound effect follies, which augment Tchaiskovsky’s already dramatic score. Each vignette is long enough to offer exposition, while leaving the rest open for imagination, interpretation and invention.

Creating accessibility in a tech filled world.

The Story Orchestra fuses beautiful art and classical music to tease the senses. At a time when over saturation and over stimulation is streaming on multiple platforms, this book allows for time to slow down and for the reader to take each magical moment in. It is a great gift to share with a young one, especially around the holidays.



For more information or to purchase, visit the Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker webpage


Tonika Todorova

About the Author:

Tonika Todorova is a freelance writer and director that goes by the self imposed title of Adventure Architect. She experiences a lot of performance with her eight year old son, Jaxon, by her side, and his reflections on Chicago theatre offer a refreshingly new perspective for her, and hopefully, others. Jaxon practices autonomous learning and is proud to be an Albany Park Chicago Children's Choir singer. Tonika and Jaxon also enjoy reviewing children's books together. You can learn more about them and their experience writing for Picture This Post by watching this Picture This Post YouTube video:

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