The Toymaker's Apprentice

Featured
 
4.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
1853 0
The Toymaker's Apprentice
Genre(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
October 13, 2015
ISBN
9780399252952

A gorgeously imagined Nutcracker retelling from award-winning author making her middle-grade debut Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family. Based on the original inspiration for the Nutcracker ballet, Sherri L. Smith brings the Nutcracker Prince to life in this fascinating journey into a world of toymaking, magical curses, clockmaking guilds, talking mice and erudite squirrels

Editor reviews

2 reviews

Reexamining a classic Christmas tale
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Stefan Drosselmeyer has decided to run away after the death of his mother. He has been an apprentice to his toy maker father, but wants to be a journeyman to a different craftsman so that he can work some of the new clockworks into his toys. When a long lost cousin, Christian, shows up and Stefan's father is kidnapped by mice, Stefan decides to help Christian with his mission. In Boldavia, Christian created a huge advent calendar with clockwork figures set in the side of a mountain, but his digging disturbed the kingdom of the mice. The queen of the mice has bitten Princess Pirlipat, who has turned to wood. Christian was sent with the court astrologer, Samir, to find the krakatook nut, which will cure Pirlipat. Stefan manages to find one in an unlikely place, and the group sets off back to Boldavia, but Christian is killed. In the meantime, a seven headed son was born to the queen of the mice, and Ernst, an accomplished, multilingual rat, is engaged as their tutor. Stefan's father is being held in captivity by the mouse queen. Stefan manages to cure Pirlipat but manages to anger the queen, get bitten, and kill the queen in his fall. Can a trip back to Nuremburg find a cure for Stefan, and can the war between the Boldavian mice and humans be won by either side?
Good Points
While there are lots of picture books that cover the story of The Nutcracker, I can't think of any books for middle grade readers that do. The Toymaker's Apprentice expands on the tale and adds lots of interesting back story details in this engaging holiday fantasy.

Stefan's initial unwillingness to continue working with his father is an interesting start to the story, since he proceeds to try very hard to find his father. The descriptions of automata will be interesting to readers of Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Pullman's Clockwork, and the machinations of the mice will keep readers turning the pages to see if Stefan will be able to save not only his father but himself.

This is an adventure set in the Napoleonic Era, which is slightly before the Regency era. Lots of interesting period details about Nuremberg, apprentices, and clockworks. Steampunk aficionados might find enough inventions in this one to keep them happy. Also, even though the talking mice are sort of on the side of evil, Redwall fans might like this as well.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Perfect addition to the reimagined Nutcracker line
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
After the death of his mother, Stefan Drosselmeyer realizes he needs to make a change, starting with taking the next step after apprenticing with her father. When his mysterious cousin, Christian, shows up just in time, they set off in search of a mysterious nut to cure a princess who was turned into a living doll by a mouse bite. With a seven-headed mouse prince, a gentlerat, and a kidnapping, Sherri L. Smith spins a fascinating reimagining of the Nutcracker.

The world of The Toymaker’s Apprentice is one of the most unique I’ve read. Readers will move from a small house of a toymaker to castle walls to homes of squirrels and be mesmerized again and again. The chapters following Ernst Listz are particularly description, and I love how he knows so much rat history. The environment of the Mouse Queen and her sons presents an interesting area of madness, war, and surprising friendship.

With short chapters and frequent dialogue, this story reads quickly, and Smith expertly keeps the reader aware of what is going on with each character, even as their stories switch back and forth throughout. The character relationships progress wonderfully, especially between Stefan, Christian, and Samir. Christian and Stefan start the story as complete strangers, but they truly become family by the end.

Middle grade readers who want their stories filled with magic, adventure, and the importance of family will not be disappointed with The Toymaker’s Apprentice. Sherri L. Smith writes a beautiful story that makes the perfect addition to the reimagined Nutcracker line.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Be Our Guest!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join Gray Malin’s menagerie of wild animals for a stay...
Hat Tricks
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Hattie the magician―she’s a natural performer, and you’re invited...
Stanley's Toolbox
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
It’s another busy day with Stanley and friends! ...
Spring Is Here!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When spring arrives, baby animals come out to play with...
10 Things I Hate About Pinky
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The delightful follow-up to When Dimple Met Rishi and There’s...
The Child of Chaos
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
This is what fantasy fiction should be." --Piers Anthony, New...
Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars2 of 5 stars3 of 5 stars4 of 5 stars5 of 5 stars Preview Star-Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
“O say can you see” begins one of the most...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
July 20, 1969. It’s a day that has earned a...
Thurgood Marshall
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Thurgood Marshall—the great grandson of a slave—was born, African...
Down Under the Pier
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
There’s lots of fun to be had up on the...
Lali's Feather
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This endearing story of identification and values shows the rewards...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Book three in a hilarious new series featuring one boy...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Everything starts with a question, like this one: Why do...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Worries, fears, and anxieties are all dragons that sneak up...
The Copycat
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A funny, unpredictable, and heartfelt new novel from Wendy McLeod...
DC Super Hero Girls: Powerless
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The DC Super Hero Girls learn what it's like to...

Latest Member Reviews

Rival Magic
 
3.0
"Antonia, wizarding apprentice to Master Betrys, may not be the best at actual magic, but she tries her absolute best..."
Be Our Guest!
 
4.0
"BE OUR GUEST! is a colorful book of photographs. The book takes us to a hotel, where a monkey named..."
Hat Tricks
 
3.0
"HAT TRICKS is a story of magic. Hattie the rabbit pops out of her magic hat to perform some magic...."
Stanley's Toolbox
 
4.5
"STANLEY'S TOOLBOX is a delightful board book that shows many tools in action as Stanley helps to repair Little Woo's..."
Spring Is Here!
 
5.0
"SPRING IS HERE! is a delightful board book that features several animals in the springtime setting. The book is extra..."
Lali's Feather
 
5.0
"LALI'S FEATHER is a delightful and colorful picture book that explores birds and imagination. Lali is playing when she finds..."
A Friend for Mole
 
3.5
"A FRIEND FOR MOLE is a cute picture book that speaks to unlikely friendships and shared experiences. Mole is happy..."
 
5.0
"This book is a winner the moment a reader lays eyes on that cover--and the title. My niece--who is picky..."
 
5.0
"This book is absolutely adorable. Dragons can suddenly show up wherever the characters are and they have to..."
The Girl and the Ghost
 
4.0
"5 Reasons to Read THE GIRL AND THE GHOST 1.) Beautiful prose- This was my first time..."
Brother's Keeper
 
5.0
"BROTHER'S KEEPER is a highly engrossing and heartfelt read about a 12-year-old girl and her dangerous journey from North to..."
Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention
 
5.0
"IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION is a delightful, rhyming book about staying true to yourself and getting creative. Izzy..."
The Welcome Wagon
 
3.0
"THE WELCOME WAGON features four friends who decide to welcome a new family to Cubby Hill. As they travel to..."
Once Upon a Crime: Batman Tales
 
3.5
"BATMAN TALES: ONCE UPON A CRIME reimagines fairytales as Batman stories. There are four main stories in this graphic novel...."
Finder, Coal Mine Dog
 
4.5
"Thomas' father perished in a mining accident, so when his mother became ill and died, he ended up with his..."
Bo the Brave
 
5.0
"BO THE BRAVE is a delightful story about courage and not judging others too quickly. Bo lives with her brothers,..."
Double Trouble!
 
3.0
"DOUBLE TROUBLE! features twins, Ellis and Erin, who are looking for trouble. They search all over the house, in the..."
The Derby Daredevils: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team: (The Derby Daredevils Book #1)
 
4.5
"Kenzie and her best friend Shelley love roller derby, a sport in which they are interested because Kenzie's mother is..."
Nina Soni, Former Best Friend
 
5.0
"Nina is nine years old, and struggling with several things. Her father has to spend his week working away from..."
Nina Soni: Sister Fixer
 
5.0
"After Nina Soni, Former Best Friend, Nina is back, and this time is concerned that her little sister is a..."