Picks and Pans Review: Christmas on Audio

updated 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

>THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER by E.T.A. Hoffmann Claire Bloom's exuberant reading is beautifully calibrated to ensure that this Nutcracker is not too sweet, even for nogged-out grown-ups. (Caedmon, $11)

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens Patrick Stewart's robust and dazzling performance hums along without a bug and makes you think you are savoring this hardy perennial for the first time. (Simon & Schuster, $19.95, cd)

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES by Dylan Thomas A ghost of campuses past, Thomas sounds lugubriously overripe, though his genius for finding poetry in the prosaic remains abundantly clear. (Caedmon, $12, cassette; $14.95, cd)

A TREASURY OF CHRISTMAS STORIES AND POEMS Poignancy without sentimentality is the gift that Jane Alexander brings to this selection of classics, notably, the Christmas at Mole End sequence from The Wind in the Willows. (Bantam, $9.99)

THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS by Annie Reiner Gravel-voiced and faintly world-weary, Jack Lemmon breathes oxygen into this anodyne interpretation of what Christmas means. (Dove, $9.95)

SANTOSAURUS by Mary Sheldon Confiding and avuncular but never condescending, Jonathan Winters demonstrates yet another facet of his uncanny genius reading this tale of a toy Brontosaurus who becomes a year-round Santa. (Dove, $9.95)

THE CAT WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS by Cleveland Amory An alley cat encountered one Christmas Eve gives Cleveland Amory paws to reflect engagingly on the social history of Felis catus. (Random House, $11)

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