Lord of the Nutcracker Men

What do you remember learning about WWI?

I remember very little. I can’t even recall what grade I might have studied it in.

Had I read a book like this one by Iain Lawrence, I would never have forgotten a single detail. This gripping historic account of WWI and the Christmas Day Truce of 1914 is based on stories the author heard from his own Grandfather’s military experience. Lawrence has given us a remarkable glimpse into the life of a soldier on the front line, and the lives of the loved ones left behind.

10-year-old Johnny’s toymaker father enlists in the war, and Johnny is sent to live with his Aunt Ivy. Johnny soon receives letters and wooden Nutcracker toy soldiers his father carved for him. At first the toys are brightly painted, grinning soldiers, then over the coming weeks they change as the dad is changed by war.

Distraught by the war and the separation from his parents, Johnny expresses his rage in his thoughts and he wrestles with his understanding of God. A kindly schoolteacher and a mysterious, haunting stranger help facilitate Johnny’s growth to a responsible, and caring young man.

As with any difficult part of history, you need to be wise in how much of the bad to expose your kids to. Parts of the book are scary, gory, very emotional, disturbing, and confusing in parts. This book is not suited for children under age 12, or for any child who may become easily frightened by such sensitive topics as war.

Mr. Lawrence has written other children’s book including a series called the “High Seas Trilogy” which sounds interesting. To learn more about the author check out the link.

Related website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/iainlawrence/

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