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The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel

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Natalie Andrewson brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s surreal and fantastical story to life like never before in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Of all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, only one captures Marie Stahlbaum’s heart: a humble nutcracker. He’s a curious little man, with kind eyes, sweet red c Natalie Andrewson brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s surreal and fantastical story to life like never before in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Of all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, only one captures Marie Stahlbaum’s heart: a humble nutcracker. He’s a curious little man, with kind eyes, sweet red cheeks, and a friendly appearance. And as midnight nears, he comes to life, revealing a fairy-tale world of magic and wonder, wicked princesses and fierce battles . . . and an ancient curse that can only be broken with the help of a true friend. With the evil Mouse King looming and her dream world threatened, Marie will have to find the strength to stand up for her nutcracker—no matter what it takes.


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Natalie Andrewson brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s surreal and fantastical story to life like never before in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Of all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, only one captures Marie Stahlbaum’s heart: a humble nutcracker. He’s a curious little man, with kind eyes, sweet red c Natalie Andrewson brings E.T.A. Hoffmann’s surreal and fantastical story to life like never before in this vibrant graphic novel adaptation of the beloved Christmas classic, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Of all the gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, only one captures Marie Stahlbaum’s heart: a humble nutcracker. He’s a curious little man, with kind eyes, sweet red cheeks, and a friendly appearance. And as midnight nears, he comes to life, revealing a fairy-tale world of magic and wonder, wicked princesses and fierce battles . . . and an ancient curse that can only be broken with the help of a true friend. With the evil Mouse King looming and her dream world threatened, Marie will have to find the strength to stand up for her nutcracker—no matter what it takes.

30 review for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    In this fantastical graphic novel, Natalie Andrewson goes back to the original story of The Nutcracker, as told by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which is considerably different from the ballet, so be prepared. Marie (Not Clara), loves the nutcracker that family friend, Uncle Drosselmeyer makes for her and her brother, even after it gets broken. She goes downstairs at night to the locked shelves where it's put away to check on it, and finds the mouse king threatening it. If only Marie will give the mouse king In this fantastical graphic novel, Natalie Andrewson goes back to the original story of The Nutcracker, as told by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which is considerably different from the ballet, so be prepared. Marie (Not Clara), loves the nutcracker that family friend, Uncle Drosselmeyer makes for her and her brother, even after it gets broken. She goes downstairs at night to the locked shelves where it's put away to check on it, and finds the mouse king threatening it. If only Marie will give the mouse king her sweets, and her dolls, and this goes on for a few nights. Finally, as we know, the nutcracker does defeat the mouse king, but only with Marie's help and her sacrifices. Then she is ill and Drosselmeyer tells her and her brother the story, over several days, of how the nutcracker came to be (he was once a real boy). At the end, you decide what is real and what is imaginary. I loved hearing the real story. It's true that the entire second half of the story I was familiar with is different, as there's no Snow Queen or Sugar Plum Fairy, but I did like it better. There's no real story in the second half of the ballet--just prettiness as Clara and the nutcracker passively watch all the treats. Here, there's plenty of story! I love that the pallet and style isn't overly "girly" so there's a chance boys too will pick this up, as it does have toy soldiers and the battles with the mice and everything. (I know, I hate the gendering of books like this. It's more the extreme gendering of ballet--which is impossible to escape--that makes this story feel more gendered than most.) I wish I'd known this version of the story, growing up!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    Disclaimer: My review for this book is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley; all the following opinions I express are wholly my own. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel is a vibrant adaption of a holiday classic, The Nutcracker. As far as I can tell, this version is basically completely faithful to the original story (purists will rejoice), and retains most, if not all aspects of it. I will say there is definitively more of a childlike-innocence spin to thi Disclaimer: My review for this book is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley; all the following opinions I express are wholly my own. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King: The Graphic Novel is a vibrant adaption of a holiday classic, The Nutcracker. As far as I can tell, this version is basically completely faithful to the original story (purists will rejoice), and retains most, if not all aspects of it. I will say there is definitively more of a childlike-innocence spin to this version; (view spoiler)[Marie and the Nutcracker's relationship is written more ambiguously and friend-like rather than romantic- he doesn't ask her to marry him at the end of it all (hide spoiler)] . The illustrations are beautiful and there are a lot of micro-expressions from the characters in the background that make the panels feel dynamic, and the art style lends well to the story and adds to the overall wholesome sweetness of it. There is a great amount of detail in a majority of the drawings, as well as bright, wide-eyed colours throughout the pages. If you're used to pared-down versions of The Nutcracker story, this take may seem slightly absurdist at first, but it didn't take long for me to get into the swing of things. Drosselmeyer's retelling of his story that keeps Marie and Fritz hanging on for more every night is ludicrously laughable but also completely endearing. This is the perfect gift to give to the graphic novel-loving, middle-grade child this holiday season!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    As the story of the Nutcracker is fairly well known, I’ll spare the synopsis. I didn’t love Andrewson’s rendition of the story. I get that a few aspects need to be updated to be more suited for a graphic novel, but it just wasn’t for me. It would likely appeal to younger kids, however. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the art in the book either. Nothing particular wrong with it, it’s just not the style I usually like. I had a beautifully illustrated picture book of the Nutcracker growing up, and thi As the story of the Nutcracker is fairly well known, I’ll spare the synopsis. I didn’t love Andrewson’s rendition of the story. I get that a few aspects need to be updated to be more suited for a graphic novel, but it just wasn’t for me. It would likely appeal to younger kids, however. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the art in the book either. Nothing particular wrong with it, it’s just not the style I usually like. I had a beautifully illustrated picture book of the Nutcracker growing up, and this just didn’t compete. Thanks to First Second and NetGalley for the eARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Becky B

    A graphic novel retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale about a girl with a great imagination, her devotion to a nutcracker she finds under the Christmas tree, how the Nutcracker and the Mouse King came to be great enemies, and how the curse is broken and an imagination is set free. I have to confess that I’ve never actually seen or read an entire adaptation of the Nutcracker story before this. Oh, I know the basics of the story and the music of the famous ballet, but I always seemed to lose interest A graphic novel retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale about a girl with a great imagination, her devotion to a nutcracker she finds under the Christmas tree, how the Nutcracker and the Mouse King came to be great enemies, and how the curse is broken and an imagination is set free. I have to confess that I’ve never actually seen or read an entire adaptation of the Nutcracker story before this. Oh, I know the basics of the story and the music of the famous ballet, but I always seemed to lose interest as a child (or fall asleep, the public TV station always seemed to put the ballet on super late on New Years Eve and we’d watch it to try and stay awake…and proceed to zonk out and get woken up to New Years cheers and then stumble to bed). I was quite surprised to read all the back story in this of how the Mouse King and Nutcracker came to be enemies. I am pretty sure I’ve never heard any version of that part of the story before. It was interesting, and felt very fairytale-ish. The art style is one that will appeal to today’s middle grade crowd. There’s quite a dearth of Christmas graphic novels available, and this would be a nice timeless addition for a library to add that is looking for more holiday tales. Notes on content [based on the ARC]: No language issues. No sexual content. There are fantasy battles but only some rats and toys injured in them. Marie suffers a bad cut on her arm and a pool of blood is shown in one illustration. Some may want to know that the back story involves a lot of use of horoscopes, and that two characters smoke pipes at one point. I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    April Gray

    Before reading this book, I was only vaguely familiar with the story of the Nutcracker- I've never read any version of the story, never watched any film adaption of it, and have only seen bits of the ballet. I knew there was a Nutcracker, a young girl, and an evil Mouse King, and that was it. What a surprise to find so much drama, adventure, and downright creepiness in what I'd always assumed was a sweet little Christmas tale! And the feels! The tenderness of Marie's affection for the Nutcracker Before reading this book, I was only vaguely familiar with the story of the Nutcracker- I've never read any version of the story, never watched any film adaption of it, and have only seen bits of the ballet. I knew there was a Nutcracker, a young girl, and an evil Mouse King, and that was it. What a surprise to find so much drama, adventure, and downright creepiness in what I'd always assumed was a sweet little Christmas tale! And the feels! The tenderness of Marie's affection for the Nutcracker, and the sacrifices she makes for him; the frustration and injustice when no one will believe Marie when she tells them what happened, dismissing her story as fever dreams; the fear and disgust inspired by the seven-headed Mouse King; the satisfaction, relief, and happiness at the ending (I really wanted Marie to dance around her parents chanting "Told you so! Told you so!" but she took the high road). Andrewson's art has a childish look to it, and that lends itself to the more platonic tone of her version- in this version, Marie and the Nutcracker are friends, no mention of marriage. The art is lovely, with lots of detail and action, and the scenes with magical happenings have a distinct dream-like quality, distinguishing them from the "real" world. An afterword by the author gives insight into her reasons for wanting to do an adaption of this tale, and why she chose to focus on the character of Marie. A delightful addition to any library! #TheNutcrackerandtheMouseKingTheGraphicNovel #NetGalley

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The E.T.A. Hoffman Nutcracker is one I re-read every year, so I'm very familiar with the story. I support Natalie Andrewson on Patreon and I was so excited to read her graphic novel adaptation. I think she might have been trying to be too faithful at the beginning, because there was kind of a lot of text from the book and talking heads. But as Andrewson changed the story, the book started to really flow and I felt like the changes made what was originally a bizarre and surreal tale into somethin The E.T.A. Hoffman Nutcracker is one I re-read every year, so I'm very familiar with the story. I support Natalie Andrewson on Patreon and I was so excited to read her graphic novel adaptation. I think she might have been trying to be too faithful at the beginning, because there was kind of a lot of text from the book and talking heads. But as Andrewson changed the story, the book started to really flow and I felt like the changes made what was originally a bizarre and surreal tale into something coherent, where there was a whole character development arc for Clara. I loved how she connected the story of the hard nut to the nutcracker Clara had. This is a weird complaint. I know orange is kind of a vintage Christmas color, but I was kind of surprised that there was SO much orange in the book. Christmas decorations and celebrations definitely are just part of a setting and the story itself doesn't seem particularly "Christmasy." I'm still trying to put my finger on it... maybe it's that the backgrounds are lacking at times. Still, this graphic novel is quite the accomplishment for one person! The borders on the chapter headings are adorable. I hope Anderewson continues to develop her sequential art skills and I would love to read an original graphic novel by her.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Let the holiday book love commence! The graphic novel retelling of the beloved Nutcracker classic is both fantastic and surreal. Organized into 14 chapters, the story of Marie and Fritz Stahlbaum has all the characters readers have come to know - or discover: Fritz's Hussar soldiers and Marie's doll, Miss Clarette, the wicked Mouse King and his army, and the Nutcracker. The story unfolds like a fever dream, shifting between Marie's dreams and the wide-awake storytimes told by their godfather, th Let the holiday book love commence! The graphic novel retelling of the beloved Nutcracker classic is both fantastic and surreal. Organized into 14 chapters, the story of Marie and Fritz Stahlbaum has all the characters readers have come to know - or discover: Fritz's Hussar soldiers and Marie's doll, Miss Clarette, the wicked Mouse King and his army, and the Nutcracker. The story unfolds like a fever dream, shifting between Marie's dreams and the wide-awake storytimes told by their godfather, the children's uncle Drosselmeyer. It's manic, often creepy, and a new spin on the classic tale. Give this to your adventure and fantasy fans. An author's note talks about the original story versus the adaptation that Natalie Andrewson 'wanted to tell'. A frenetic adventure that's going to be read at Christmastime and beyond.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christy Broderick

    I absolutely loved the illustrations in this story! Thanks again to NetGalley and First Second for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for feedback. I’m actually not too familiar with the actual story, besides what children’s movies I’ve seen that talked about the Nutcracker. This was something that I went into without much background knowledge, so to read it with an open mind was wonderful! I plan to find a copy of the actual story to read during the holidays this year to become more famil I absolutely loved the illustrations in this story! Thanks again to NetGalley and First Second for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for feedback. I’m actually not too familiar with the actual story, besides what children’s movies I’ve seen that talked about the Nutcracker. This was something that I went into without much background knowledge, so to read it with an open mind was wonderful! I plan to find a copy of the actual story to read during the holidays this year to become more familiar with it and I plan on getting this GN to pair with it. Wonderful story that kept me engaged the entire time between the fairy tale being told and the REAL reason the Nutcracker was in Marie’s house.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I thought I would love this, but it's just not for me. The illustrations are cool and the story is interesting, but halfway through I felt like giving up. It didn't appeal to me anymore. I did finish it and I liked the ending, but overall I give it 2 stars. The way godfather and the brother acted bothered me a lot. Same as the parents, but once you read the author's note, you understand why the parents were like that.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I knew vaguely of this tale, but most of what I know is from the ballet. This is a fun, fantastical story about adventure and I,agitation. Marie is given a nutcracker for Christmas. She loves this nutcracker more than anything and will protect it from the mouse king, there is a story within a story, where we learn the history of the nutcracker. The art is really neat and eye-catching. The story is fun. I'd hand this to children ages 8-11, who are looking for a fun adventure. #Netgalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Miller

    As a longtime fan of The Nutcracker, from the ballet to the Barbie adaptation, Andrewson truly brings new life to a timeless story. The illustrations sometimes veer more towards explosively expressive, but that shouldn't deter older readers at all - after all, these give the characters such life that practically jumps off the page.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kellen Green

    An interesting approach to the classic Nutcracker ballet in the form of a Comic/ Graphics Novel. A fast read that presents the story in a child friendly manner and that would probably hook a new young audience (and some reluctant older ones) to the world of musical stories. An ARC if this book was kindly provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    True to the original ETA Hoffman in all its surrealness and fantasticalness. So, we have Princess Prilipat as well as Marie and Fritz. Note that Marie and Fritz are intended to share the Nutcracker and that there is no party with guests on Christmas Eve. There's no snow, either.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Destiny Henderson

    This was a cute Christmassy story with some dark moments. Nothing wrong with the story at all, but I just didn’t find the art style engaging. I almost dnf this

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ray

    Beautiful graphic novel!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dolores

    3.5 stars. Graphic retelling of the classic story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    What a beautiful adaption of one of my favorite stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leland Goodman

    YES NATALIE WERK

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mompop

    a bit too much graphic violence for intended audience (publisher's weekly says ages 6 - 10)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicolette

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nele

  24. 4 out of 5

    carolina rocha

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna-Marie Boss

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vicente Irie Bosio

  28. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Spaulding

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