THE HELPFUL ELVES by August Kopisch


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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A classic German tale of rosy-cheeked elves, retold.

According to legend, the city of Cologne once had tiny helpers who would sneak into homes at night and complete the daily chores while the townsfolk slept. The bakers never had to knead the dough, the carpenters never had to lift a hammer and the tailor never had to sew a stitch. Until one day the tailor’s wife grew curious to see these mysterious helpers. She scattered dried peas on the steps, and when they clattered to the floor she ran to see the elves. Unfortunately, all she saw was the backs of their red, pointy caps as they raced out of town. The elves never came back again. Based on a well-known poem by Kopisch (1799-1853) and illustrated in muted tones by Braun-Fock (1898-1973), the charm of this tale lies in the tiny elf tabs found at the top of each page. Together in a row, 10 elves are perched expectantly—each made distinct with a different smile or a long white beard—forming a miniature audience to watch readers. One can almost hear them gleefully giggling at the comeuppance they know is coming at the end.

An enchanting, if abrupt, piece of German lore brought to a new audience. The lesson, curiosity killed the cat, rings true in all cultures. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-86315-815-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Floris
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2011


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