Misha and Marie are thrilled that Christmas is coming. It’s a frosty night, the neighbors are all invited, and Peter the stable boy is sweeping the barn in preparation for the dancing to come. But there’s a disappointment in store. Instead of the beautiful doll she’d hoped for, the only thing strange old Uncle Nikolai has for Marie is a wooden nutcracker. Marie thinks it’s a wonderful gift. Little does she know that it will lead her and her brother on the adventure of a lifetime.
When Misha and Marie finally go to bed on Christmas Eve, they sleep fitfully and are beset by nightmares. In one particularly bad dream, they join forces — unusual for the squabbling children — and conquer an army that might harm the nutcracker. Their reward is splendid: they are swept to the realm of the Snow Queen for a night of wonders.
James Kudelka, the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada, is one of North America’s foremost dance artists. His vision of The Nutcracker is elegantly told by Karen Kain and beautifully rendered by artist Rajka Kupesic, herself a ballet dancer.
Karen Kain is an internationally renowned ballerina who became Principal Dancer with the National Ballet of Canada in 1970. During her career, she has performed as a guest artist with most of the world’s best-known ballet companies, and has received many distinguished awards and honors. She has also been involved in several major film and television productions. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and holds honorary degrees from the University of Toronto along with York, McMaster and Trent Universities. Karen Kain is the Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Rajka Kupesic was classically trained as a ballerina and danced in Europe while developing as a painter. As an artist, she is known for her unique handling of detail, color, and mood, which infuses the familiar with an extraordinary quality. Her paintings have been shown in numerous galleries worldwide and have been featured in magazines in France, Canada, and Japan, and in major collections around the world. Her first book, Claire’s Gift, was awarded the Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Best Children’s Book. Rajka’s illustrations also appeared in Tundra Books’ Maria Chapdelaine which was published in 2004. Rajka Kupesic resides in Toronto with her husband Zlatko and their sons.
“A magnificent addition to any family, school, or community library Christmas picture book collection, The Nutcracker is a classic Christmas story that is beautifully retold by internationally renowned ballerina Karen Kain and marvelously illustrated by the museum quality artwork of Rajka Kupesic.”
—The Midwest Book Review
“Kupesic’s full-page illustrations … are intense with luminous colors, their rich details making up for their lack of movement. Particularly impressive are the renderings of textured fabrics, draped, folded, and pleated, which seem almost touchable… What this version offers, along with visual elegance, is a simplified, straightforward telling that parents wanting to brief children before a performance will especially appreciate.”
“Kain’s prose dances…and Kupesic’s vibrant paintings glow.“
— Today’s Parent Toronto
“.... Rich in texture, detail, and glowing color, Rajka Kupesic’s illustrations...create a world of romance, beauty, and magic...The doll-like faces of Kupesic’s characters...encourage us to enter with them into this strange and splendid land, glowing with deep blue skies and golden stars.”
— Quill & Quire
“Kupesic’s ornately detailed oil paintings have an Eastern European feel, with rich hues and gilded pages. A distinctly different presentation of a familiar story – a handsome [purchase].”
— School Library Journal