Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History

Charlotte and the Nutcracker: The True Story of a Girl Who Made Ballet History
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
December 21, 2021
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A reimagined and modern take on the holiday favorite, this picture book weaves together the classic Christmas tale of The Nutcracker and the true-life story of 12-year-old ballerina Charlotte Nebres, the first Black girl to play Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production.

The only thing Charlotte loves as much as ballet is Christmas. So, when she gets the opportunity to play Marie in the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker, she leaps at the chance.

Dancing takes practice-hours of adjusting her arms and perfecting her jumps. With the help of her Trinidadian and Filipino families, encouragement from her sister, and a view of her mom and dad in the audience, Charlotte finds the strength to never give up.

In this spectacular debut full of fluid, dynamic illustrations, Charlotte provides youngsters with a multicultural tale of family, dance, and holiday cheer.

Editor review

1 review
sweet picture book about a true story
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
CHARLOTTE AND THE NUTCRACKER is a beautifully illustrated story about the first Black ballerina to dance as Marie in the NYC Ballet production of The Nutcracker. The book begins with her first ballet class, where she learns and masters the steps. Then, she goes to see a ballet live, where the dancers on the stage inspire her to work harder. Some children from her ballet school will be chosen for The Nutcracker, and Charlotte tries out. She is thrilled to get the part, and she feels like Christmas will be extended. She performs, and the book then touches upon her family's holiday traditions.

What I loved: The illustrations here are really lovely, capturing all the beauty and magic of ballet, and then of her family and their holiday traditions. The importance of representation and seeing yourself on the stage really comes through - as well as the need for increased diversity in ballet. This is a sweet story about reaching for your dreams and achieving something great.

What left me wanting more: The story did not have the cohesiveness I was looking for when reading, and it felt like it jumped around instead of flowed smoothly from one thing to next. I would have liked a more in-depth story, tying in more of her family and their traditions throughout. I also feel like some of the preparation and so on for the show was missed in the book. Some of the traditions at the end were unfamiliar, and it would have been great to get more explanation about what is happening and the special ways that they celebrate Christmas.

Final verdict: Based on the true story of a special young ballerina, CHARLOTTE AND THE NUTCRACKER is a beautifully illustrated picture book about reaching for your dreams and the magic of ballet and the holiday season.
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