In Diana Kizlauskas’s second picture book, she considers a question: What if Christmas elves deserted their jobs?
The scene is the bustling North Pole workshop where elves punch in with time cards, then attend to their toy-making tasks. Five elves are introduced: Tap, a fine dollhouse builder; Tweak, who creates smoothly running toy trains; Twinkle, who brings dolls to life with her face-painting talent; Plumperson, a stuffer and fluffer of cherubic-faced teddy bears; and Top, who keeps an eye on the workshop machinery.
One day, a despondent Tap suddenly sets his hammer down. “My work is plain and small…I’m so little and my job is, too!/ That’s it. I quit./ I’m going to find/ IMPORTANT/ work to do!” His four other friends realize that they feel the same, and they all leave their jobs to seek a higher purpose. Their first attempt—to help a busy baker—is a disaster when their Christmas cookies break and burn. Next, the elves join a church choir, but it’s clear the sound is far from heavenly.
They try other jobs but bungle each attempt. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, during their absence, things are falling apart: “…the dolls lay pale,/ the trains derailed…” Yearning for their old jobs, they decide to return. Santa greets them with hugs and explains that even small jobs are important if they’re done with “love and care.”
Kizlauskas’s rhythms are sometimes awkward, but her rhymes are original and descriptive: “My job is silly,”/ Plumperson complained./ “I push on bumps and pull at lumps./It leaves me dull and drained.” Young readers will be drawn into her colorful and detailed drawings—many with dashes of kid-humor.
Overall, this is a lovely message wrapped in a brightly colored package. The story is sure to empower its audience, knowing that even the littlest things done with care can change the world.
Also available in paperback and ebook.