Janet Mills Wimsett has written a jolly holiday poem about a quirky little elf named Twigly who solves one of the great mysteries of Christmas: how does Santa deliver presents to homes without chimneys?
Until one very special Christmas Eve, Twigly is known mostly as a lazy fellow with a fondness for pranks. Whenever there’s real work to do, the other elves can’t find him, even on the busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve. This year, Twigly falls asleep in the comfy pouch of a toy “kangaroo doll” that has been packed into Santa’s sleigh by more industrious elves. When the other elves cheer as the sleigh takes off into the Christmas Eve sky, he wakes with a start.
As Santa flies over cities, he sees something he seems to have never seen before: houses without chimneys. Twigly hears Santa exclaim with worry, “what can I do now!” and tries to figure out how he can help Santa out of this jam. At last, he shares his clever solution: being so tiny, Twigly can slide through a keyhole when needed and open doors from the inside out. With the help of some magic fairy dust at just the right moment, the plan works and Christmas is saved.
Twigly, Santa’s Tiniest Helper is a fun holiday story, although it might have been better served by a straight narrative, rather than forcing rhyme schemes that occasionally make the story hard to follow. As written, the poem feels long, and youngsters’ attention may lag when multiple stanzas appear on a single spread. That said, Raymond Kudemus’ illustrations are cartoonish and bright and serve the story well.
In the end, Twigly’s tale may lead children to another question: what if our apartment doesn’t have a keyhole or a chimney? Perhaps the tiniest elf will be back next year for another adventure.
Also available in hardcover.