The Nutcracker Mice
Hidden in Saint Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theater are the world’s tiniest ballet fans: the Mariinsky mice, including Esmeralda, a rising dancer in the Russian Mouse Ballet Company. Despite being unable to control her tail, Esmeralda has just been assigned the lead role of Clara in a ballet debuting at Christmas: The Nutcracker. But when she learns that the new ballet features mice as villains, her excitement turns to horror: the mice of Saint Petersburg will never come to see such a production. Meanwhile, nine-year-old Irina is convinced that the mice she’s seen in the Mariinsky — the mice her father, the custodian, is supposed to exterminate — are not only fans of the ballet, but dancers themselves. No one will believe her, so it falls to Irina to help save the mice everyone else considers vermin . . . and perhaps to help Esmeralda ensure the future of the mouse company. Sweet and inventive, Kristin Kladstrup’s ballet fantasy features artwork by beloved illustrator Brett Helquist, old-fashioned drama, and just a touch of holiday magic.
Even though mice are considered to be vermin, Esmeralda meets Irina, a human nine-year-old who wants to help them. Irina is the daughter of the custodian and may be the only one who can help save their lives and the ballet. Esmeralda doesn't want to be seen as the enemy.
I do think that some names and words are complicated considering it's a middle grade novel, like Lyudmila and Balalaika for example. I absolutely loved the pictures. I feel like they brought the story to life and my daughter enjoyed them as well. I do appreciate how the author sticks to the history of it, but younger readers may not realize it.
Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of animals like mice, The Nutcracker, and ballet. It's a prefect story to share around Christmas when the traditional play is on tour.