Night Before Christmas Review & Rating -
Out of the two books that I read I felt this was the weaker of the two. This was largely because it felt like it could literally have been any version of "The Night Before Christmas." There was no moment that made it feel like they put a "The Berenstain Bears" twist to it or even made it about those particular characters, even though they are represented in the artwork. It felt like it just regurgitated the original poem, verbatim. One of the interesting things for me about this series of books was that even when they used ideas that originated with someone else they put their own spin to it. They simply did not do that here. This does not mean though that a parent should avoid this book though to be read to their children. It is still a great way to introduce the characters to your children or even a fun way to introduce the poem to your children who may be a little more put off by the original works, but perhaps already have found a love for the bear family.
Reason - This just felt like a basic retelling of the poem instead of it feeling like a fun rendition done by the Berenstain Bears. It is still, however, a great children's read.
and The Nutcracker Review & Rating -
This was the better of the two books. The main issue I had with the previous book is not done here. They let the characters play out the story of "The Nutcracker." Making it squarely about them instead of about reading to children. I found this to be an enjoyable read, even as an adult, because of seeing how the cubs played out the story. Seeing who got which parts and how they would ultimately get to the conclusion in the limited number of pages that these books have. I also love how they put the Nutcracker into the story to begin with, so it felt organic to the world that they live in instead of a forced children's story that is just a retelling of the original material. I would highly recommend this as an introduction point to parents that love "The Nutcracker" and hope to one day introduce the Ballet/Play to their children. This is a good segway to that and to give them memories of it while they are too young to appreciate something with more adult sensibilities. This book also has a great sense of "Christmas Spirit" about it, so it is also a good read for those simply looking for a quick story for the holiday season and are not looking to put a lot of massive work into it. You get the Christmas feeling from it and you get transported into the world of imagination that I have came to associate with this series. You will appreciate it, even as an adult, if you like children stories.
Reason - The way that the Nutcracker comes into the story is done well. The retelling of "The Nutcracker" also directly involves members of the The Berenstain Bear's family, so it was a better book for the series. I highly recommend it to parent's to read to their children.
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