October 14, 2015

Guest Post: Sherri L. Smith Author of The Toymaker's Apprentice +GIVEAWAY

When I was little (ok an even now) I always wanted to be a ballerina, and of course I loved the ballet The Nutcracker.  When I lived in Boston I finally got to see it performed on the stage, and it was magical.  

So when Penguin Random House approached me about highlighting The Toymaker's Apprentice I said yes because - HELLO it's a retelling of The Nutcracker!!!

About the Book
Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family. 

About Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels Lucy the Giant, Sparrow, Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Flygirl and Orleans. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. Flygirl was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist. Sherri was a 2014 National Book Awards judge in the Young People’s Literature category. She is a three-time writer-in-resident at Hedgebrook retreat in Washington State, as well as a resident at Wassard Elea retreat, in Ascea, Italy.
Sherri is visiting The OWL today with a guest post.  Since this is her first middle grade novel I thought it would be fun to hear from her what she was like in middle school!!

Welcome Sherri!

Gack! Me as a middle schooler. Let’s see… fifth grade was elementary school for me. We didn’t have middle schools where I lived. I would have had braces and been a quiet, bookish sort. That was pretty much true up through 8th grade. I also wore a retainer with a rubber band across my front teeth. I read a lot of everything at that age, but fantasy was becoming a front runner. Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain were favorites of mine, along with his Westmark trilogy (an influence on Toymaker for sure). Around 4th grade, I discovered Susan Cooper’s The Grey King misshelved in my elementary school library. I devoured it and was equally thrilled and dismayed to discover it was the fourth in a series called The Dark is Rising Sequence. Thrilled because it meant there were more books (!), dismayed because I hoped I hadn’t ruined anything by reading it out of order (I hadn’t). To this day, I’d recommend both Alexander and Cooper to anyone.

I was a day dreamer. I grew up on Arabian Nights, the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, Peter Pan and Charlotte’s Web. For me, the pages of a book were far more familiar and comfortable than the outer world. I love the camaraderie of these stories as much as the adventures themselves. Such different personalities had to team up to save their world or each other from the darkness. Isn’t that what everyone wants to find in real life—their very own band of companions to help weather the road? I know I do.

The year my parents divorced, I was in 7th grade at a new school in a small town that was very different from the cities I had lived in up to that point. Either because they saw what I was reading, or hear me say something just right, but a group of kids invited me to one of their barns to play Dungeons and Dragons. The boy who asked me was actually named Merlin. I kid you not. With an invitation like that, I remember thinking, “This is it! This is how the journey begins!”

Except… we didn’t have a car, and the bus didn’t go to Merlin’s farm. So I had to refuse that call to adventure. That never happened in Tolkien. *Sigh.* And, if you are wondering, I have yet to play D&D—a real loss, since I always wanted to write monster manuals.

Thank you Sherri for sharing that with us! I love the story, and someone needs to find you a game of D&D!

To see more of The Toymaker's Apprentice tour check out the sites below:
The Book Smugglers – guest post – 10/12
Novel Novice – interview – 10/13
Owl for YA – guest post – 10/14
The Compulsive Reader – 25 Random Things - 10/15
Teen Librarian Toolbox – review -  10/16
Green Bean Teen Queen – guest post – 10/19
Kid Lit Frenzy – interview – 10/20
Great Imaginations – review – 10/21
The Children’s Book Review – top 5 list – 10/22
Word Spelunking – guest post – 10/23

I have both an ARC and finished copy of the book.  Not needing both I'm going to give one away!
Must be a US resident
Must be at least 13

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for having me! This post was a real trip down memory lane! I'm happy to send the giveaway winner a signed bookplate. Let me know who wins. So exciting!

  2. I used to be be a huge fan of D&D before I had kids back in my high school and college days! Yes, I do love the Nutcracker :)

  3. Awww. I wanted to play D&D too, but never got an invite. Someday!

    (Anyway, I have a lovely copy of this book, and just popped in to wave hello to the blog tour.)

  4. No, I have never played D&D. Love the Nutcracker!

  5. I was never into D&D but the Nutcracker is beautiful.

  6. Hmmm. I am too old for D&D. Your book sounds terrific, though. Thanks for sharing your fifth grade memories.

  7. I'm so looking forward to this one, and am very glad it got nominated for the Cybils so I can read it in good conscience!

  8. And yes on the D. and D. and yes on the Nutcracker!