Noelle of the Nutcracker
Written by Pamela Jane
Illustrated by Jan Brett
Houghton MIfflin Company
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American Booksellers Association ‘Pick of the List’
A brightly-woven old-fashioned Christmas tale of two little girls who both dream of owning a beautiful ballerina doll, but the doll has a dream of her own!
“Jane’s first book magically captures the dreams-can-come-true atmosphere of the holiday season. Ilyana and Mary Jane, second grade rivals, both fall in love with the same ballerina doll in a shop window. Mary Jane vows her rich father will get it for her, while Ilyana despairs. The doll, Noelle, doesn’t want to be owned by anyone she dreams of being on stage. It is her dream that comes true first, when she is used as one of “Clara’s” props in a production of The Nutcracker. In the meantime, Ilyana and Mary Jane prepare for the class Christmas pageant. Ilyana dresses up like Noelle, and her performance is spotted by her teacher’s fiancé the prop man from The Nutcracker who wants Noelle to belong to a little girl. Ilyana finds Noelle under her Christmas tree. The series of coincidences never seem strained; Jane is a skillful storyteller. Readers may wish Brett’s realistic pencil drawings were in color, but this is a lovely novella any time of the year.”— Publishers Weekly
“This book has all of the ingredients for a story aimed directly at many young girls…The ending is…just like magic. Maybe at Christmas time that’s just how things should be.”— School Library Journal
“A perfect seasonal read-aloud.”—Kirkus Reviews
Each character in a story has a special and unique point of view, and different and often conflicting dreams and goals. Noelle of the Nutcracker is told from two opposing points of view: Ilyana, a little girl who longs to own the beautiful ballet doll and Noelle, the doll, who dreams of dancing in the Nutcracker ballet.
Have the students:
Tell the story of Noelle from the point of view of Mary Jane, Ilyana’s adversary, who schemes to get the doll for herself.
In December, celebrate the spirit of sharing and giving by having the students bring a special toy to school, one that has deep personal connection or meaning, and write a story from the toy’s point of view, to be read aloud and shared with the class.