Helquist’s full-page panels in shades of black are delightfully expressive and are filled with charming details. Dance, drama, and a star turn make this a page-turning tale.
Helquist’s jubilant illustrations greatly enhance the book’s appeal…a very sweet and enjoyable Christmas read.
—School Library Journal
Brett Helquist’s black-and-white drawings (usually one per chapter) bring the mice and their activities to life, and a subplot involving nine-year-old human child Irina adds to the book’s appeal. With a forward summarizing the original Nutcracker and an afterword recapping Esmeralda’s mouse-centric version, this is perfect for balletomanes and mice fans alike.
Irina’s and Esmeralda’s story lines are individually engaging, and their overlapping moments are warmhearted. Copious illustrations (seen only as sketches) enhance both mouse and human worlds.
—The Horn Book
A sweet middle grade book about the world’s tiniest ballet fans living in Saint Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theater.
Kladstrup has crafted a marvelous plot and colorful characters, a humorous and dead-on depiction of mouse-style ballet (Esmeralda is constantly being scolded for failing to properly control her tail) and a wonderful setting of 1890s St. Petersburg, as experienced by mice, with its back alleys, bakeries, the wonders of Nevsky Prospect and the nooks and crannies of the Mariinsky. Tchaikovsky himself has a pivotal cameo. Helquist’s illustrations are marvelous.
This sweet, nostalgic tale evokes the thrilling joy of dance and music, and shows that such a feeling is universal in all creatures, big and small.