I'm a big, big fan of any stories that take on Christmas myths, stories, or traditions, and so I'm very excited to see that author Sherri L. Smith has a new book out this week that does just that--The Toymaker's Apprentice! It's a middle grade novel about the famous Nutcracker story, but with a very clever twist...
Young Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father, and he wants nothing more than to escape the family business. That is until the day Stefan’s world is turned upside down when his father is kidnapped by a mice army. Matters only gets worse when he is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian, to find a mythical nut called the krakatook in another world and to cure the Mouse Queen's curse.To celebrate the release, Sherri is touring the blogosphere. Today, she's revealing 25 random things about herself:
Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany and beyond, Stefan must save Boldavia's princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her violent, erratic seven-headed Mouse Prince. Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann and The Nutcracker ballet, this fascinating journey through a world of toymaking, magical curses, clockmaking guilds, talking mice, and erudite squirrels will have readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.
- I am passionate about chocolate chip cookies. In fact I am eating them right now. In my opinion, Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips are the only way to go!
- I am allergic to California (Palm trees? Check! Native grasses? Check! Traffic? Check!), but I live here anyway.
- I rode English and Western horseback as a child.
- I took bellydance for three years, culminating in my one and only solo performance to celebrate my birthday.
- I took hula for two years, culminating in a big finale at a community center show. We followed the toddler ballet class. They won for cuteness. We never tripped once.
- I played flute for half a year in high school just so I could play the part of “Greensleeves” that I knew. This was inspired by Susan Cooper’s the Dark is Rising series, in which a character I had a crush on plays…” Greensleeves” on the flute. See the heights reading can inspire you to attain?
- When I was a sophomore, I won second place in a German poetry recitation competition. The poem was “So einer war auch er!” by Arno Holz
- I was on an adult kickball team with my husband. Four words still enrage me: Chuck Norris Delta Force. The meanest team we ever played.
- E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan gave me the courage to tell my mother I didn’t like mayonnaise when I was a kid. I never liked mayonnaise on my sandwiches, but didn’t know how to say why, until Louis the swan said he didn’t like it either.
- I drink an awful lot of tea. Ginger Peach was my favorite herbal for years, Irish Breakfast is my go to for black. I find peace in the ritual of boiling water and choosing a tea from my cabinet. I have several mugs, but my Donald Duck is designated for mornings, and my Fiesta Ware for evening tea.
- I am torn between allowing pots to “soak”—meaning I can avoid them until morning—and actually just washing them right now.
- I was in ski club in 7th grade. I have only skied once since then, but I did enjoy it.
- I tore my ACL (a ligament in the knee) while dodging a zombie during an obstacle course. I had to have surgery, and my ligament was replaced with a donor tendon. For two years I liked to say I had used the zombie for spare parts, or that I was a little dead inside. But now, my doctors say the new part is all me, the cells replaced with my own. It’s like a tiny resurrection. I’m alive, ALIVE!!!
- I talk to myself. A lot. Out loud. Some people find this annoying. Some find it charming. I think it’s hereditary (thanks, Mom).
- I once did an aerial cartwheel. That’s “no handsies” for you non-gymnastic folks. Only once, though. It was kind of an accident and I couldn’t repeat it for overthinking the whole impossibility of it all. Kind of like Wile E. Coyote falling out of the sky only when he realizes there is no ground beneath him. Yep. That’s me.
- When I was four years old, my favorite food was day old spaghetti, chopped up and reheated in a pot. Delicious.
- I also peeled my hot dogs at that age, and refused to eat them without karate chopping them in half, a la Miss Piggy. Ha. Kids. Weird.
- My dog had two middle names but my cat does not.
- I would like to be two inches taller. For many years, I thought I was. But it turns out my school friends were two inches shorter than they thought, too. It was all a matter of scale.
- I think Prague looks like a fairy tale city, all spires and castles and bridges and astronomical clocks. Of course, there are hot dog stands and apartment blocks, too. It is, after all, a real city. But you can squint and just see the magic.
- I once sang a French song made famous by a nun in front of a full house in the assembly room of a church and somehow didn’t die of fright, or screw up the song, which was in too high of a key for me. Phew!
- I like roasted Brussel sprouts, tomatoes and broccoli, but not necessarily together.
- Inspired by a cooking magazine, I once deboned an entire chicken and made a galatine, which is layers of vegetables inside the bird. I trussed the bird back into shape and roasted it for dinner, much to the surprise of my brother, who talks about “the boneless bird” to this day.
- I find it strange that some people are bothered by bones in their meat. It’s meat. It has bones. Unless it’s a hot dog. In which case you chop it in half with your hand, just to be sure.
- I think Virginia Woolf is simply amazing. Even writing nonsense, she makes sense, like a narrator from a dream.
Thanks so much, Sherri! The Toymaker's Apprentice is out now! Put it on your Christmas lists!