Meet the Prince!: Ella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by James Mayhew
ELLA BALLERINA’S BALLET CLASS WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN. OUTSIDE THE OLD THEATER IT HAD STARTED TO SNOW, WHILE INSIDE, THE CHILDREN WERE VERY EXCITED.
“IT’S THE PERFECT WEATHER FOR TODAY’S LESSON,” SMILED MADAME ROSA, LEADING THEM TO THE STAGE.
On the stage is a glittering tree, and the students are surprised to begin their warm-up on stage with holiday scenery, but with a mysterious smile, Madame Rosa motions for them to follow her backstage, all the while relating the story of the Nutcracker and Clara’s visit to a fairy kingdom.
“I’D LOVE TO TELL YOU MORE OF THE STORY, BUT THEN WE WOULDN’T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SURPRISE.... FOLLOW ME!”
“A PARTY!” GASPED THE CHILDREN.
Beautifully decorated tables laden with Christmas treats await them, and the students are delighted, but then Madame Rosa remembers something left behind.
“ELLA BALLERINA, WOULD YOU FETCH THE MUSIC BOX?” SHE ASKED.
“THEN WE CAN HAVE SOME MUSIC FOR DANCING AT OUR PARTY!”
Ella hurries back into the darkened theater for the music box, but can’t resist opening it to hear that tinkling music that reminds her of the snowflakes outside. But when she does, she notices a figure under the tree, that of an older girl in a white nightdress, clutching a large nutcracker, and just waking up. She tells Ella her name is Clara and begins to tell her a story that sounds so familiar, how her mischievous brother Fritz has broken the clever nutcracker her uncle had given her. Then suddenly Ella notices something frightful.
"WE ARE SURROUNDED BY MICE!”
As so Ella finds herself part of the story of the Nutcracker as she and Clara defeat the Mouse King, release the Prince from the evil spell, and travel with him to the Land of Sweets for a whirlwind tour led by the Sugar Plum Fairy.
James Mayhew’s just-out installment in his ballet series, Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker (Barron’s, 2012) introduces young ballet fans to the famous Christmas ballet that all young dancers yearn for this time of year. Mayhew’s lovely watercolor illustrations set just the right fanciful tone for this dreamlike reenactment of the well-known story, the wonders of the land of the nutcracker king
as seen by a young ballerina like themselves.
Other books in this series include Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella, Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake, and Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty, a collection that is sure to delight balletomane fans of Marilyn Singer’s Tallulah books and Grace Maccarone’s Miss Lina's Ballerinas series.