The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas

In The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas preparations for a doomed stage production of the classic ballet goes from terribly bad to ridiculously worse. Sick stagehands, renegade cats, and crashing Christmas trees have everyone sure that the show won't go on. But it's Christmas Eve and help is on the way! Told in verse with wonderful whimsical illustrations, this story hits all the right notes for holiday reading.

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Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Dewey 811/.6
Lexile 800L
ATOS Reading Level 3.9
Guided Reading Level L
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585368891), PDF (9781634704281), Hosted ebook (9781634704427)
Copyright 2015
Number of Pages 32
Dimensions 10 x 10
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • Gelett Burgess Children's Book Honor Award Seasons And Holidays Category, Winner, 2016

School Library Journal - The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas

The night before the Christmas day performance of The Nutcracker, disaster strikes. The programs are misprinted. Costumes are torn. The stagehands get sick. Fortunately, Santa and his elves are on hand to save the day. Told in the familiar anapestic tetrameter of Clement Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” this mash-up of the two Christmas classics may appeal to children who are familiar with both. This is not a retelling of The Nutcracker story, although the illustrations do portray cute multiracial children dressed in traditional costumes for the ballet. VERDICT Additional holiday fare.

Kirkus Reviews - The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas

A Christmas Eve performance of The Nutcracker ballet runs amok with multiple mishaps but is saved in the nick of time by the arrival on set of Santa Claus and his elves. The familiar rhyme and rhythm of “The Night Before Christmas” serves as the structure for this clever melding of two beloved holiday stories. An all-child cast is about to perform The Nutcracker, but the day of the performance is filled with mishaps, from torn tutus to sick stagehands to a broken nutcracker. Santa and the elves fix everything and even lend the sleigh and reindeer to the Sugarplum Fairy to use in the performance. The play is performed on Christmas Eve, and Santa steps on stage during curtain calls for “a rollicking round of applause.” Large-format illustrations with a double-spread format and horizontal orientation ably capture the backstage and onstage scenes. The multiethnic children who make up the cast seem a little too young to be putting on The Nutcracker, but the roly-poly kids are undeniably cute in their mouse and flower costumes. Two final pages include a plot summary of The Nutcracker and a glossary of ballet terms. This adroit amalgamation of two beloved Christmas stories will be best appreciated by children already familiar with both tales rather than as an introduction to The Nutcracker ballet. (Picture book. 4-7)

The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas - Coloring Page

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The Nutcracker's Night Before Christmas - Activity Pages

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Author: Keith Brockett

Keith Brockett danced professionally for more than twenty years. He also appeared as a singer and actor from time to time, in musical theater productions, plays, choral concerts and theme park stage shows. Developing these various talents was a real challenge for Keith, and some funny, farcical and frustrating situations frequently arose as he strove to become an ever-better performer. At times he felt just like poor Ollie the Ogre did – clumsy and cloddish - but nevertheless, doggedly determined! Keith lives in New York, New York.

Illustrator: Joseph Cowman

Joseph Cowman, although born in Westminster Maryland, has spent most of his life among the mountains, lakes, and rivers of Idaho’s Treasure Valley. He has illustrated numerous picture books, including The Poo Poo Fairy, Noah Chases the Wind, and The Nutcracker’s Night Before Christmas. Joseph shares his Boise, Idaho home with a school teacher (his wife), two daughters, a son, and a mischievous basset hound. When not illustrating, he can be found throwing a Frisbee, slacklining, or skipping stones alongside the kids. You can find him online at, twitter @Joseph_Cowman, or Instagram at josephcowman.

Author/Illustrator biography
Full-color illustrations