Barnesville author Diane Reynolds recently released The American Nutcracker, a retelling of the classic holiday tale with a decidedly pioneer twist.

The American Nutcracker combines a magical story of nutcrackers and dolls come to life with the American log-cabin frontier. The lively plot is inspired by the E.T.A. Hoffman original.

A Nutcracker, a Sugar Plum fairy, a real girl looking to put the excitement back into Christmas, and a diversity of dolls get involved in an adventure that includes Native Americans, magical happenings, and growing up. Strong female role models help animate the tale.

Children’s literature expert Alice Tracy, former president of the Freddy the Pig children’s book society, calls the book "something distinctly American is both entertaining and poignant. ... Reynolds elevates the classic tale into a truly meaningful Christmas story. If you are looking for a new Christmas reading tradition, I highly recommend this book."

The book has an old-fashioned flavor, and while light-hearted, also involves a message about caring for others. It even features a doll named Hannah that comes from Barnesville, offering a glimpse of the area’s Quaker roots.

The American Nutcracker emerged from the idea that it was time for a retelling of a beloved story. A whimsical tale, it has a cultural surround familiar to an American audience.

"I loved the Little House books growing up and hoped to borrow some of their classic American flavor for this tale," Reynolds said.

Reynolds says the story came to her several years ago, partly based on her love of the Nutcracker, but with a wish for a version that didn’t include a seven-headed mutant mouse.

"I never thought I’d venture into children’s literature, but it was enjoyable to write this story," Reynolds, a biographer, said. "Some ideas just won’t leave you."

The book is illustrated by Barnesville resident, Karen Riccelli, who works as an art teacher at Olney Friends School. An audio version of the book is in production

About the Author

Diane Reynolds is an award-winning journalist, scholar, book reviewer, college instructor, and author of the groundbreaking biography The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She has long been a lover of children’s literature and is pleased to be publishing her first children’s book.