Book review: The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell

The Elf on the Shelf

The Elf on the Shelf

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No one wants to be left on the shelf this Christmas… except perhaps for a very special elf!

Welcome to a self-publishing phenomenon that has been winning hearts across the United States for ten years and is now set to add a new and exciting dimension to the run-up to the season of goodwill here in the UK.

The enchanting tale of The Elf on the Shelf, featuring the hidden role of Santa’s little helpers, was written by a mother and daughter duo and is based on their own family’s Christmas tradition.

After being rejected by over a dozen publishing houses, Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell went on to self-publish The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition and it has now sold over eight million copies.

The cleverly rhymed story, beautifully illustrated by Coë Steinwart, explains how the scout elves are sent out to be Santa’s eyes and ears at the homes of children around the world. When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives his or her Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. And that’s how Santa knows who has been naughty and who has been nice.

Each copy of the hardback book comes with a scout elf whose job it is to watch over the house during the day and report to Santa every night.

Each morning the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch over the festive fun and preparations, creating a unique family moment as mums and dads enjoy watching the children racing round the house to find where the elf has landed.

The Elf on the Shelf creator, Carol Aebersold, says that when her children were very small, they wanted to know how Santa really knew who was naughty and who was nice, and her answer, as in her own childhood, came in the form of a small scout elf.

‘To preserve the scout elf’s Christmas magic,’ she explains, ‘the children were not allowed to touch it. However, talking to the elf was encouraged. My children shared many secrets with their scout elf and while he was under strict orders not to talk to them, the elf could bring their wishes and messages back to the North Pole to share them with Santa Claus.

‘Unwittingly, the tradition provided an added benefit… it helped the children to better control themselves. All it took was a gentle reminder that the “scout elf is watching”.’

The Elf on the Shelf, which is being launched from official scout elf adoption centres, including elfontheshelf.co.uk, John Lewis and select speciality retailers, is an imaginative concept that provides extra magic to the little ones’ Christmas countdown as well as some gentle ‘cautionary’ control for frazzled mums and dads!

A timeless classic and the perfect accompaniment to the traditional advent calendar, this beguiling little elf and his amazing adventures have a shelf life that could stretch right through the generations.

(Creatively Classic Activities and Books (CCA and B, LLC), hardback book and elf toy, £27.95)