Summary and book reviews of Lord of The Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence

Lord of The Nutcracker Men

by Iain Lawrence

Lord of The Nutcracker Men
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2003, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Johnny's dad, a toymaker, sends his son letters and carved soldiers from the front in WWI. When Johnny's toy battles seem to foretell his dad's real battles, Johnny fears he controls his father's fate. A poignant narrative of war and its effects on the people who live through it. Ages 10-14.

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 nothing like what any soldier or person at home expected.

The letters that arrive from Johnny's dad reveal the ugly realities of combat --- and the soldiers he carves and encloses begin to bear its scars. Still, Johnny adds these soldiers to his armies of Huns, Tommies, and Frenchmen, engaging them in furious fights. But when these games seem to foretell his dad's real battles, Johnny thinks he possesses godlike powers over his wooden men. He fears he controls his father's fate, the lives of all the soldiers in no-man's land, and the outcome of the war itself.

Chapter 1

My dad was a toy maker, the finest in London. He made miniature castles and marionettes, trams and trains and carriages. He carved a hobbyhorse that Princess Mary rode through the ballroom at Buckingham Palace. But the most wonderful thing that Dad ever made was an army of nutcracker men.

He gave them to me on my ninth birthday, thirty soldiers carved from wood, dressed in helmets and tall black boots. They carried rifles tipped with silver bayonets. They had enormous mouths full of grinning teeth that sparkled in the sun.

They were so beautiful that every boy who saw them asked for a set for himself. But Dad never made others. "They're one of a kind," he said. "Those are very special soldiers, those."

I had no other army to fight them against, so I marched my nutcracker men across the kitchen floor, flattening buildings that I made out of cards. I pretended that no other army even dared to fight against those fierce-looking soldiers.

When I was ten, the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!


  1. What is the relevance of Johnny's father being a toy maker? How are youth and adulthood represented in the novel? How is Johnny's father described before the war? What is his attitude toward the war at that time? How does Johnny's father's attitude toward the war change once he has reached the front? How do the descriptions of him change at that time?

  2. What role does nationality play throughout the book? How does Johnny's father feel about neighbors and friends such as Fatty Dienst when they leave England to fight in the war? Does his opinion of them change when he is fighting on the front lines?

  3. How does Johnny's understanding of war change from the beginning of the novel to the end? How are his ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

School Library Journal

Using vivid language, Lawrence writes poignantly of war and the devastation that England and its people suffered during World War I. Because of the first-person voice, readers travel the heights and depths with Johnny's emotions and feel present in the story. Grades 5-8.

Kirkus Reviews

A minor false note is that Johnny, a bright 11-year-old, needs to have his father's letters read to him, but that can be forgiven in an otherwise original piece of historical fiction in which big themes are hauntingly conveyed through gripping personal story and eerie symbolism. Ages 10-14.

Reader Reviews

random person

Review
We read this book for English at school. We all thought it would be boring but as soon as we started reading it we all liked it. We all liked the fact that Johnny was like a god and the soldiers. I would recommend this book for ages 2-202. It's ...   Read More

kayla

The best book i have read so far in my life.
I enjoyed reading this book. As Dad's war went on, Johnny's war continued just about the same way as his Dad's had. What had encouraged Johnny to want to have anything to do with the war-related things? This book left me with a few questions ...   Read More

pupil

I LOVE IT!
This is a great book! We are reading it for homework! For our assessment we have to write about how Johnny s father's attitude changed throughout the book! I wish I could see the letters do you know where I could find them as I no longer have the ...   Read More

Emily

My Opinion
I think this was a good book with a great plot but as a class novel i would not recommend it because i lost the plot because there was such a big gap between chapters read. however thumbs up to Ian Lawrence for a fantastic novel, keep it up!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Lord of The Nutcracker Men, try these:

  • London Calling jacket

    London Calling

    by Edward Bloor

    Published 2008

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    In the summer after 7th grade Martin meets a boy in a dream who will change his life forever. Where did this boy come from? Is he a dream? But how can his dreams be set in London during the Blitz? How can he wake up with a head full of people and facts and events that he certainly didn't know when he went to sleep--but which turn out to be ...

  • Willow Run jacket

    Willow Run

    by Patricia Reilly Giff

    Published 2007

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The sequel to Lily's Crossing. When Meggie's father moves to Willow Run to take a job building planes, Meggie desperately misses her home; but then she meets Patches and Harlan, other kids like her whose parents have come here to do their part in the war. She faces questions about courage, and what it takes to go into battle and how to ...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.