Lord of the Nutcracker Men
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Lord of the Nutcracker Men

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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Ten-year-old Johnny eagerly plays at war with the army of nutcracker soldiers his toymaker father whittles for him. He demolishes imaginary foes. But in 1914 Germany looms as the real enemy of Europe, and all too soon Johnny’s father is swept up in the war to end all wars. He proudly enlists with his British countrymen to fight at the front in France. The war, though, is n...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Laurel Leaf (first published January 1st 2001)
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Jo
This review is part of my Poppies & Prose feature. You can find out more about it here.

“Below me were my wooden soldiers. The nutcracker men were hidden in the dark shadows of the tree and the wall, but the moonlight gleamed on my Frenchmen and my Tommies…The guns in France pounded away with their faint little thunder, and I thought that my real dad would be just like my model, wide awake, watching the sky.”



This was one of those rare, wonderful books that you read without knowing anything a
...more
Mimi
This is a great book to share with middle schoolers when you want to teach your kids about World War I or just war in general. The main character is a boy, perhaps 10 or 12 years old. His father is a gentle toy maker who proudly goes out to war to fight for his country. The boy, Johnny, is sent to live with his aunt in the country, because London is too dangerous a target. Johnny's mother goes to work in the factory to help the war effort. He receives letters from both of his parents, and his fa...more
Jo Oehrlein
The piece of historical fiction is a story of the British homefront during the first months of World War I. The principal figures are a young boy (maybe 12?) and his father. His father was a toy maker; now he’s a soldier in the war. The boy is sent to the country to live with his aunt, while his mother moves to work in a weapons factory. Much of the story is in letters from the boy’s dad. The boy spends much of his time playing with toy soldiers, many of which are carved by his dad. At first all...more
Brandi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Art
Aug 14, 2008 Art rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Currently reading.
What an interesting way to look at the World War I.
From the homefront of a young man whose father goes to war.
and the people he interacts with.

The author compares WWI w/Homer's "Illiad". What a comparsion.
He also discusses a British poet w/"might had deserted" and gave reference to his poetry.
Karen L.
Jan 21, 2008 Karen L. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: boys, 10 and up
About a 10 year old boy from England who's father goes off to fight in WW1. Much of the story is told through the fathers letters to young Johnny. In each letter the father sends a hand carved wooden soldier. There is something mysterious to Johnny about these soldiers.
Casper
Lord Of The Nutcracker Men is a book about a ten year old quasi-refugee, Johnny. Living in WW1, this novel is a recount of all the events leading up to Christmas.
To be short: I didn't like it.
I read it in class, and I ended up stopping reading halfway through in favour of writing short stories (only God knows if the teacher let me because of how bored I must have looked). I found it lacking - the vocabulary was so simple I would have expected to read it in primary school, but the subject of the...more
Kev
Lord of the nutcracker is about a ten year old boy,johnny who lives in London England.As any other boy would want to do johnny plays with his nutcracker soldiers his toy maker father makes for him.but in 1914 , Britain is at war with Germany which is the beginning of world war one.He soon learns that his father is going to war in the trenches of France.
Every week letters are sent to johnny with a soldier his father curves in the trenches.He still adds it to his army of Huns, Tommies,and Frenchma...more
Rebecca
Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence
Dell-Laurel Leaf, 2003, 6 discs (6.5 hrs), $5.99
YA Novel Adventure/War
ISBN: 1402523173

This is the story of 10-year-old Johnny Briggs, but it is also the story of his father, James, a British toymaker who volunteers to fight the Germans during WWI. For safety’s sake, Johnny leaves London to live with his aunt in the British countryside. His father carves toy soldiers to pass the time between battles while crouched in the trenches of France and sends them...more
Candy Wood
Johnny, the narrator, is ten in 1914, and readers his age could learn a valuable perspective on war from his story. It takes him a long time to understand what's going on: he doesn't know why neighbors with German names are leaving London, he thinks it's great when the height requirements for soldiers are lowered so that his father can join up, and he sees war as a game, just like the ones he plays with toy soldiers his father made for him. He's even excited at the prospect of Zeppelin raids nea...more
Lauren
This was the first book that I ever stopped in the middle of. This was probably due to the fact that I was in the third grade when I read it, but still.
5 years later, I still have no desire to pick up this book. All I remember was little 8 year old me just being terrified (not good terrified. Baaaaaaaaaaad terrified.) of turning the page. Silly, silly, scared-for-life Lo.
Of course, I have undoubtedly read scarier books, but i just don't want to go through that again.
Shudder....
So, you can take...more
Laura
I got this book several years ago. I think I got it because it was on the clearance rack of Half Price books and I was trying to build up my class library. I really haven't many historical fiction books and even fewer books about WWI.

I was unable to relate to Johnny. It's probably my age but I related more to his teacher and even his mother. Like Mr. Tuttle, I grow roses although I have not reached the point where I wish to breed them. And I found the notes about Johnny's mother having yellow-st...more
Crabbygirl
read alongside my son for our WW1 chapters of history, i really enjoyed this tale set in england that neatly showed the ravages of war through the use of toys, some mud, and an active imagination. the christmas truce was also a nice touch.
written in 2001, it's nice to know that relevant, engaging historical fiction is still being written for the younger crowd.
Mary
A good introduction for middle school readers to World War I.
Calvin Bergen
I had to read this book for school and it was excruciating! Every second of this book was boring and I didn't even read half of it before putting it down. I eventually had to do a school project for it in the form of a "glog", (look it up, it's basically an on-line poster creator)and just looked up a summary for the rest of the book on the internet. I ended up getting a really good mark on that project (go figure). If you're in to fictional history, don't read this book! I'm sure there are many...more
Katie
Book six of six for Canadian Children's Lit.
Ken
Ten year old Johnny is sent to live with his aunt in a small village after his toy-maker father volunteers for the British army in WWI and his mother begins work at a munitions plant.

The boy amasses armies of toy soldiers that are made by his father who adds subsequent soldiers in letters from the front line trenches.

As the play battles that Johnny enacts with his toy soldiers became hauntingly prophetic, his view of the war begins to change.

A very strong story!

5 STARS, favorited
BookGirl
I honestly couldn't get into this book. Maybe it was because it’s told from a ten year old point of view or maybe it was the positivity the characters had towards the war. I will say that the letters and the toy that reflected the battlefield was interesting and the only thing I could read. All in all, I don’t recommend this.
Neill Smith
Johnny’s dad is fighting in WWI in the trenches in France. Accompanying his letters home are toy soldiers he carves. As Johnny fights his own mock battles with the toy soldiers it seems that the events he reenacts with his soldiers mirror the events that are happening to his father in the trenches. The events happening around him in England and the effect on his family and neighbours represent the horror and ugliness of war.
Amy
This is another beautifully told, well written war novel. I think this one is more appropriate for an audience of children, but I would suggest it be read with an adult. There are some heavy war themes (obviously...) and I would want to discuss those with my child if they were reading it.

I also read this book originally as an assignment for my Children's Literature class.
Benji Martin
I was searching the catalog for some Nutcracker picture books, and came across this novel. It seemed interesting, so I gave it a try, and I have to say, it's really good. There wasn't much that I found fault with at all. It's just a good story about growing up and how the realities of war can shape a young mind. I really enjoyed reading it.
Betsy
Stunningly complex with storyline, family dynamics and emotion. One of my favorite YA Great War novels.
Kelly
Kind of an All Quiet on the Western Front for kids. A young Eng. boy is periodically sent carved figures from his father fighting in the trenches of WWI. Brings war home, but also reflects what atrocities his father is seeing. WWI gets glossed over in favor of the Big One, and this would be a great way to work it into the curriculum.
Alana
Feb 20, 2011 Alana rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
great! i loved the portrayal of the realities of the Great War. Both the options at home and the realities on the battle front. i think this book is a great look for those who think being a solider is easy, it's not, war is hell. great job on the research!
Nancy  W'f
Jun 30, 2008 Nancy W'f rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone.
Recommended to Nancy by: Barbara Stiber
This is a children's book, but it is one of the best written accounts of what it was like on the home front during the first world war--all from a child's perspective--that I have ever read. The anguish and the fears are clearly depicted.
Velvia Fortenberry
This book was a really good read. The story of a boy sent away because of the war. It is told from the boy's point of view and has his thoughts and worries for the welfare of his father fighting in the war.
Sarah Mayor Cox
One of my fave war books of all time - Iain Lawrence so cleverly uses the protagonist's wooden soldier as a symbol for what is happening to Johnny's father in the trenches. So moving, I couldn't put it down.
Melissa
Loved, loved, LOVED this book. Beautiful story, beautifully told. I bought a copy of this for my boyfriend's birthday a year later (that boyfriend who is now my husband!)
Chantal
Beautifully told tale of a boy who sent away during the war to stay with an aunt, receiving little carved wooden toy soldiers from his father on the front.
Gabriela West Grajeda
i loved how the author wrote the book. Its very addict and couldn't leave the book until i finished the book. Wonderful!!!
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