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Notice what attracts your children's attention, even if they only look at the pictures. Then build on that interest; ... More

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Author: Barbara Barbieri McGrath

Illustrator: Rosalinde Bonnet

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Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.,

Material: hard cover

Summary: The little red elf lives in a workshop with a penguin, a hare, and a reindeer. While the animals enjoyed their leisure, the elf did all of the work, from making toys to keeping things neat and clean. When she found some pinecones, she asked her friends to help plant them, but they were not interested. This begins a succession of tasks that no one wants to help with ... until it is time to open presents. Will the little red elf really keep her friends from opening gifts? This is a holiday story that is reminiscent of The Little Red Hen.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Reading Level: 2.6

Age of Child: Read with 7-year-old child.

Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter liked the illustrations, but she didn't like the story. She really didn't like how no one would help the little red elf. She loved the illustrations - especially the animals playing in the Christmas tree.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a big disappointment. Yes, it is a clever take on the Little Red Hen, but I was taken aback by the idea that the animals whined their way into getting the gifts without so much as an "I'm sorry." Yes, Santa left them an appropriate gift, but only adults will "get it." Explaining irony to children is not an easy feat. The illustrations are terrific.

Pros: Cute illustrations and a familiar story will attract young readers to this twist on a classic.

Cons: This isn't a con, but readers who don't celebrate Christmas or Santa will want to know these are part of this story.

Borrow or Buy: Skip. This is a well-drawn book, but it's no fun having to explain the punch line to young children ... and they won't get it otherwise.


Educational Themes: Although this story is built around Christmas, the themes can be used all year long. You've got everything from laziness and responsibility to forgiveness and sharing.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 2.6
The Reading Tub requested a publisher donation for this title.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, Christmas, fables and folklore

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2009

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