February 23, 2018

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The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith | SLJ Review

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ToymakerSMITH, Sherri L. The Toymaker’s Apprentice. 400p. Putnam. Oct. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399252952.
Gr 4-6–Part Nutcracker with a dash of Pinocchio, this middle grade debut by YA author Smith is an absorbing tale of adventure, invention, family loyalty, and sly humor. Stefan Drosselmeyer and his father, a master toymaker, are in their home in Nuremberg grieving the recent loss of Stefan’s mother. Enter flamboyant cousin Christian Drosselmeyer, who involves them in a perilous quest. Christian, the master clockmaker for the kingdom of Boldavia, was held responsible for a mouse uprising, and during a fight for the kingdom, the human princess was bitten by the maniacal Mouse Queen and turned into wood. The only known cure for her condition is a krakatook, a nut that is proving impossible to find. Before Stefan and Christian can return to the search in earnest, Stefan’s father is kidnapped. The quest to find him and the krakatook and save Boldavia from the vengeful Mouse Queen and her seven-headed son while escaping with their lives is almost the undoing of the Drosselmeyers. Suspense builds as the chapters alternate between human and rodent perspective. Bursting with unforgettable characters of both species (and a few others), the novel rushes along to its inevitable final battle and enlightening conclusion. The author’s note describes the connection to the original Nutcracker, which inspired Alexandre Dumas’s retelling and the well-known ballet. VERDICT Fans of both genres will relish this highly recommended historical fantasy.–Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY

This review was published in School Library Journal’s September 2015 issue.

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