Elma the Elf and the Tinsel-Tastic Sled Zeppelin by Camilla Victoria Storm & Nick Simons

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Published by Pokey Hat, an imprint of Cranachan Publishing, 2018.

From the very first line (‘It was cold enough to freeze bogies’), I knew that I was in for a treat! Elma the Elf and the Tinsel-Tastic Sled Zeppelin is a riotous festive adventure.

It begins in Santa’s Toy Factory with the arrival of bus-loads of new elf recruits. We follow the team who are assigned to rubber duck testing and wrapping. Elma the Elf is part of this team. She’s an enthusiastic, imaginative and ambitious elf who’s delighted to be working at the factory but she’s less than thrilled with her tedious and unfulfilling role. Her constant chatter, endless questions and repeated suggestions for factory improvements immediately get her on the wrong side of her supervisor. Before long she’s sneaking off into areas of the factory that are out of bounds and this is how she discovers that something is very wrong: letters to Santa are going unanswered and the toys are not being delivered. Elma meets Comet, the only remaining reindeer in the factory, and he explains that Santa went on holiday years ago and he hasn’t been heard from since. One by one the other reindeers, lured by promises of fame and fortune, left the factory too.

Elma makes it her mission to bring back the magic of Christmas. She drafts in elvish reinforcements, modifies Santa’s sled, rounds up the missing reindeer and sets out to deliver elf-made Christmas presents to children around the world. On the way she uncovers a sinister plot hatched by the evil Shady McScrump; will he foil her plans to save Christmas?

img_3050There are 24 chapters and the book can be read as an advent book: one chapter a night until the big day. I think this is a lovely idea and the book certainly lends itself to being read aloud and shared – there’s so much to enjoy together. The black and white illustrations are full of character, energy and humour and you’ll be able to pore over these together too.

This is a really funny book. Firstly, there are lots of fart jokes. The reindeers are rather partial to baked beans. There are some pretty unpleasant side-effects to this dietary preference but there’s also the more welcome advantage that all the emissions can be used to help propel the sled. Dialogue is witty, observations are amusing (I loved the description of the out-of-work reindeers watching The Only Way is Antler on TV), and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments.

I love a Christmas book that explains some of the mysteries that surround Santa, especially if we’re given an original perspective. Elma the Elf and the Tinsel-Tastic Sled Zeppelin does just that. The descriptions of the reindeers’ careers and lifestyles post-Santa are great, and I particularly loved getting behind-the-scenes access to Santa’s toy factory. This is a brilliant festive read – full of imagination and Christmas magic.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 7+

Thank you to Cranachan Publishing for sending me this book to review.

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