Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by James Mayhew

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Ella Bella ballerina series. Orchard Books, 2012. ISBN 9781408314081.
(Age: 4-6) Ella Bella is really excited about the surprise party that her ballet teacher, Madame Rosa has prepared for the class. There is a large Christmas tree on the stage beside Madame Rosas special music box and when Ella Bella opens it up it begins to play music. She is transported into the wonderful world of The Nutcracker ballet, where she meets Clara and the little wooden nutcracker. Together they battle the evil Mouse King and when he is vanquished, the spell binding the nutcracker is broken and he turns into a handsome prince who takes them to a magic forest. They all dance to the music of The Nutcracker ballet, and in the Marzipan Palace the Sugar Plum Fairy claps her hands and they are surrounded by sweets.
This is a delightful imaginative story that will thrill little girls who are learning to dance or who would like to learn how to do ballet. The story of the The Nutcracker is told beautifully and the illustrations complement the story and will help young readers work out what is happening. They are light and airy and I particularly liked the Sugar Plum Fairy with her gorgeous wings and pink and white dress.
On the back page is an explanation of the origins of The Nutcracker ballet, and the music that was written by Tchaikovsky for Russia's famous Imperial Ballet.
This is a book that will have young readers and adults clamouring to hear The Nutcracker music and if they are very lucky, being taken to see a production of the ballet.
Pat Pledger