Nutcracker Night cover

By Mireille Messier & Gabrielle Grimard

Nutcracker Night

Discover the sights, sounds and magic of a night at the ballet that will prepare even the youngest of children for their first theatrical experience

Beep! Beep! go the taxis. Voof! go the velvet curtains. The Nutcracker ballet and New York City’s David H. Koch Theater come to life in this onomatopoeic representation of a little girl’s experience at the ballet. From the swish of her dress and the tick-tick-tick of the conductor’s baton to the twelve bongs of the clock and the pitter-patter of dancers’ feet, this special evening is filled with sensory treats for the eyes and especially the ears. And did she enjoy the ballet? The answer is a big smooch on her father’s cheek.

Written by Mireille Messier, Nutcracker Night is a celebration of a Christmas classic that is often a child’s first experience of the ballet. Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard infuses each scene with warm holiday colors and a richness that will make young readers feel they are really there. An author’s note enriches the text with further information and a brief summary of the famous ballet.

Available In


Ages 3-7
ISBN: 978-1-77278-091-8
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $19.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 9.50 x 11.00 inches / 24.13 x 27.94cm
Pages: 40

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 32

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2019 Northern Lights Book Award: The Arts (Winner) (United States)



Praise for Nutcracker Night

2019 Northern Lights Book Award: The Arts Winner

“The painterly illustrations capture the excitement, energy, and lushness of it all with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure….A great primer, reminder, or armchair visit for seeing The Nutcracker live. Great for reading aloud and individual sharing.”—School Library Journal

“A sprightly introduction to the classic Christmas ballet….The spare text…[delivers] the story through a series of combinations of expertly chosen onomatopoeia and dialogue guiding readers from the anticipation of the ballet through its first act, intermission, the second act, the curtain call, and the child narrator’s closing, appreciative ‘Smooch!’ of thanks to her dad. Sure to elicit the storytime equivalent of ‘encore’ at Christmastime and beyond.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This vibrant tribute to a holiday tradition follows a sensory-filled adventure to a Nutcracker performance….A charming entrée for ballet-bound children.”—Publishers Weekly

“A good primer to complement a child’s first time seeing The Nutcracker and, for those familiar with it, a fresh take on a classic.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“Experience Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker through the eyes of a young girl attending the ballet in this fresh rendition of the beloved classic…The sights and sounds of the theater are center stage; musicians, dancers, and a lively audience interact through the onomatopoetic text.”—Foreword Reviews

“Rating: E…This is a beautiful Christmas story, with a sparkly cover (the snowflakes are glossy) but it can be read at any time of the year to introduce children to ballet, theatre, or words that are associated with fun to say sounds.”—Resource Links

“[Messier] focuses…on the child’s outing with an onomatopoeic series of words that capture the sensations surrounding the event.”—The Sudbury Star

“An unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”—Midwest Book Review

Nutcracker Night captures the magic of a young school-aged child’s visit to the ballet with her father. The Nutcracker, a classic ballet, comes to life as a true auditory experience….The pen and ink with watercolour illustrations are both detailed and energetic….Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“Mireille Messier, through the clever and playful use of onomatopoeia, introduces young readers to The Nutcracker ballet in this beautiful book about a little girl’s first experience at the theatre….Sure to become a holiday classic, Nutcracker Night is a must-have for those who love the ballet. And, for those who have never had the chance to experience it, this book will serve as a lovely introduction.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“The onomatopoeic sounds bring the excitement of the night to life along with the beautiful illustrations rendered in watercolor, gouache, oil, colored pencil and digital media….This is a wonderful introduction to the ballet for young readers and will be enjoyed by fans of the holiday classic.”—Youth Services Book Review

“Head to the ballet with Mireille Messier and Gabrielle Grimard’s Nutcracker Night for a different kind of audiovisual experience and one that is perfect for the holidays. Like the nutcracker itself, Nutcracker Night opens up a tale for the season.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

Nutcracker Night is a cozy, lively read that tells the much-loved and much-recited story with a sweet and fresh perspective….A great pick for the coming winter and Christmas season, Nutcracker Night’s noise-and-sound-based text in tandem with lush, cozy art makes for a joyful, perfect-for-reading-aloud experience.”—Fab Book Reviews

“[A] feast for the senses…What a delightful way to introduce young readers to the entirety of the experience.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“This delightful picture book would make a lovely December gift for a young child….The pictures here are charming, bringing the characters, audience members, musicians, and dancers to life. We see the rosy cheeks, the children awed by the night and the ones eager for more. There are many children, as would be expected for this ballet, and lots of ages of adults. Fathers and mothers, diversity of people, and a range of festive attire….Beautifully done.”—Canadian Bookworm

“[T]his beautifully illustrated book…are all the sounds a little girl hears as she attends the ballet with her dad….I haven’t had the privilege to attend a performance of the Nutcracker, but based on this book, I can imagine how beautiful it is.”—Booktime


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Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

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