Sunday, December 4, 2011

THE NUTCRACKER by Warren Chappell

The Nutcracker has been adapted for picture books many, many times. Some based on Hoffman's original story, some the ballet.

One that stood out to me even as a child was an adaptation by Warren Chappell. This was first published in 1958. It's a rectangular volume, wider than it is high, in a green cover with silver stamping. The dustjacket tells the Nutcracker nut that this isn't going to pretend to be the original. It tells you it's adapted from Dumas' adaptation of Hoffman right off!

Chappell's adaptation is a very faithful adaptation. It feels more like an abridgement than an adaptation though it isn't. It makes for a lively retelling.
However, the big features of the book are still to be explained. First, there are the wonderful illustrations by Chappell. His line art and color pages bring the story whimsically and beautifully to life. Even his seven-headed Mouse King is well-done, though he is so massive, one wonders how he's even a threat.

But that's not all! Actual sheet music for Tchaikovsky's score appear on the pages, illustrated. When I was a kid and got the book from the library, I recall asking a music teacher at school to play from it. (She did.)

Quite an excellent book. Not only is it a good adaptation, it's also a really attractive little book.

1 comment:

Bill Campbell said...

I always liked this one too. Warren Chappell did some other ballet to book adaptations as well.