My niece enjoyed this story, but when I asked her what she liked about it, she couldn't really give me an answer. I think that for her this was just one of those stories that you like, but that you can't really pinpoint why. The ending, in which all that's left of the tin soldier is a hunk of tin melted into a heart shape, and all that's left of the ballerina is the spangle on her sash was confusing to her, and she needed me to explain the significance to her. She did enjoy the illustrations, which are very pretty, a great deal.
My nephew had very strong negative feelings toward the book. He was fine with it up until the end. When I asked him why he didn't like it he said, "because, it wasn't fair that the brother threw the soldier into the fire, and the goblin didn't get any punishment! The goblin should've been punished, not the soldier!" For him this story clearly went against the idea of roses for the good guy and thorns for the bad guy.