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Of Mice and Nutcrackers: A Peeler Christmas    by Richard Scrimger order for
Of Mice and Nutcrackers
by Richard Scrimger
Order:  USA  Can
Tundra, 2001 (2001)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Of Mice and Nutcrackers continues the adventures of the Peeler family, last seen on a hilarious family car trip in The Way to Schenectady. It starts with Bernie wheezing in a clinic waiting room, filled 'with coughers. Also sniffers and wheezers, moaners and drippers.' It's December after all, and Christmas is coming. Jane Peeler is preoccupied with other things - her school production of The Nutcracker, 'a ballet with music you remember from Bugs Bunny', for which Jane is director.

When the kids spot the ominous 'duck of doom', the reader knows there are storms looming, and indeed Jane's life starts to fall apart. The family is quarantined; her stay-at-home dad gets pneumonia and her 'dragon lady' grandmother takes over from him; rehearsals are plagued with attacks by computer mice; Jane's best friend is jealous; and the show's star has last minute stage fright. There are marbles at midnight, cat food sandwiches and mousetraps, and a hilarious confrontation with the basketball team.

Jane is a strong teen heroine, compassionate and a leader, who keeps a cool head and learns a great deal about her peers while directing them on stage. Several cast members show unexpected strengths, and in the process Jane learns how 'real friends' should act.

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