The Nutcracker Comes to America

How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers
a Holiday Tradition

This post joins other
kidlit bloggers at
Nonfiction Monday Roundup
It's Monday!
What are you reading?
at Teacher Mentor Texts
2015 Nonfiction 
Picture Book Challenge 
at KidLitFrenzy

Millbrook Press

(published 9.1.2015) 36 pages

A True Tale with  Cherry On Top 

A uthor: Chris Barton
      and Illustrator: Cathy Gendron 

C haracters: William, Harold, and Lew Christensen

O verview from the jacket flap: 

    "'Every December, The Nutcracker comes to life in theaters all across the United States. But how did this nineteenth-century Russian ballet become such a big part of the holidays in twenty-first-century America?
     Meet Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, three small-town Utah boys who caught the ballet bug from an uncle in the early 1900s. they performed alongside elephants and flows on vaudeville, immersed themselves in the New York City dance scene, and even put on a ballet featuring gangsters at a gas station. Russian immigrants shared the story of The Nutcracker with them, and during World War II - on a shoestring budget and in need of a hit - they staged their own Christmastime production in San Francisco. It was America's first full-length version and the beginning of a delightful holiday tradition."

antalizing taste: 

"When Willam was out and about, he noticed San Franciscans whistling the music of a popular composer - Tchaikovsky. That gave him an idea: Willam decided to have another go at The Nutcracker.

Not just bits and pieces of it, either. He and Harold were going to treat audiences to the whole shebang. So what if they hadn't actually seen the whole shebang themselves?

Willam and Harold huddled up with their friends George and Alexandra, who had danced in the whole show long ago in Russia.

Equipped with a better understanding of the story and the characters and what all the dancing meant, Willam built up the steps for a new production.

Harold built up the dancers so that they could do those steps. Patient, strict, and teasing all at once, and always standing so straight that his pants kept trying to slide down Harold took special care in teaching the many young dancers taking part."     

and something more:  I always like hearing authors give credit to their editors. I'll always be so indebted to the finesse, expertise, knowledge and gentle touch of my book editors (Margery Cuyler, Christy Ottaviano, Donna German and Katie Hall) in shaping my stories.
     In the "Author's Note" of The Nutcracker Comes To America, Chris Barton describes his extensive research for the book and concludes : "All the while, my efforts were guided by Millbrook Press's Carol Hinz, whose skill as an editor - paired with her own experience as a ballet dancer - deserves considerable credit for the book."   
     Also, I enjoyed learning that America's Nutcracker had its origins in San Francisco where I first saw the ballet (and have enjoyed seeing it many times thereafter)


Alyson Beecher said...

I just love this book. Thank you for linking up with the NFPB challenge.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

So glad you stopped by, Alyson! And yes, I think your idea of the Nonfiction Picture Book challenge is terrific!