The Show Must Go On! Zombelina Dances the Nutcracker by Kristyn Crow
IT'S ME, ZOMBELINA. THE TRYOUT'S TODAY
IN THE OLD OPERA HOUSE, WITH MY CORPSE DE BALLET
I'M HERE FOR THE NUTCRACKER. IT'S MY AUDITION.
I KNOW I'M GOING TO STIFF THE COMPETITION.
But in going for the big role of the season, Zombelina's got a couple of problems. No, it's not her legs flying off when she does her jetes. Madame just calls that grand extension. It's that she has to try out against her best friend Lizzie. And then, there's Grandpa Phantom (of the Opera), who just loves to, er, generate his special effects in the lighting of the old opera house.
But Zombelina wows the judges and wins the part of Clara. This time it's Lizzie relegated to the chorus. but the two friends both work hard to master their moves and finally it's opening night. The lights dim, and in dead silence from the enchanted audience, Zombelina begins to dance. The Mouse King threatens the Prince, and it is time for the dramatic climax of the scene.
WHEN IT'S THE MOMENT, I TAKE OFF MY SHOE
TO THROW IT AT HIM (JUST AS CLARA MUST DO.)
BUT OH, WHAT A MESS. AS YOU WOULD PROBABLY GUESS--
MY FOOT ENDS UP SAILING ALONG WITH MY SHOE.
But Zombelina pulls herself together to climb into the sleigh with the Prince for the grand finale of the first act, when suddenly something happens to the stage lights. The spotlights dim and suddenly nothing can be seen of the dancers--mice and all--except their bones.
ZZAAP! The corps de ballet is a group x-ray!
But Zombelina is one dancer who can think on her feet (if she has them at the moment). She whispers to her friend to switch roles with her while she puts the kabash on Grandpa's pranks backstage. But Lizzie protests that she doesn't know Clara's steps!
ZOMBELINA GIVES LIZZIE HER LEGS. "LET MINE DO THE SHOW!
WITH CLARA'S LONG NIGHTGOWN, THEY WON'T EVEN KNOW."
LIZZIE LOOKS A BIT SQUEAMISH, BUT NODS "OKAY.
I'VE HEARD 'BREAK A LEG!' BUT NEVER THIS WAY!"
That's Showbiz! Detachable zombie legs do come in handy, and the show goes on, in Krystyn Crow's latest Zombelina story, Zombelina Dances The Nutcracker (Bloomsbury Press, 2015), in which the whole ballet company gives it all they've got (and then some). Author Crow knows her way around rhyme schemes and wordplay, and manages to work in the expected zombie tropes in a decidedly detached version of the usual Nutcracker Ballet story, while Caldecott-winning artist Molly Idle ably portrays Zombelina as a ballerina with grace and presence who knows how to exploit her unusual abilities. As School Library Journal puts it, "It had to happen: The Phantom of the Opera meets The Nutcracker!"
Share this one with Marilyn Singer's Tallulah's Nutcracker and James Mayhew's Ella Bella Ballerina and The Nutcracker (Ella Bella Ballerina Series.)