Woodland Nutcracker


32 pages
ISBN 1-55263-124-9
DDC jC813'.54





Illustrations by Frances Tyrrell
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is also the
author of The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek, and
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Hom


Inspired in part by Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” and the
ballet that helped to immortalize it, the Tyrrells have cheerfully
borrowed from both to make a new Christmas classic. The scene is the
forest on Christmas Eve, where an affluent family of black bears are
welcoming relatives and friends to their cosy island home.

Clara and Peter’s favorite gifts are Grandpa’s handmade dancing
puppets, tin soldiers, and a carved nutcracker bear. Clara wakes in the
night, goes in her nightdress to see the nutcracker under the tree, and
finds a great many mice filling sacks with leftover party food. The
nutcracker bear is about to lead his tin soldiers against them.

Christmas is not a time for fighting. Clara says that the mice need the
food for their children; indeed, she helps them to take it. Meanwhile,
the nutcracker has turned into “a live fur-and-claws bear,” tall and
handsome. Further adventures include Clara’s ride with the bear in a
balloon and their meeting with Ursa Major, a gracious queen bear in a
crystal palace.

This is Avril Tyrrel’s second book in collaboration with her
daughter. Frances Tyrrell has illustrated many books and been
shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Her highly detailed,
brilliantly colored illustrations are full of humor, whimsy, love, and
the spirit of joy. Woodland Nutcracker is a special book for all
seasons. Highly recommended.


Tyrrell, Avril., “Woodland Nutcracker,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20851.