Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Elves Up North is an interactive, holiday-themed fantasy story book for children written by L.L. Walters. The author has designed this book so that parents and caregivers can read it as a whole or by chapter. Interspersed throughout the story are opportunities for children to become part of the story through the decisions they make, starting with a decision on learning more about the mission that the Maestro, a mysterious elderly man with twinkling eyes, needs help with. The Maestro is really a magical being with wizardly robes that reflect the golden lights of the fire that blazes merrily from his hearth. He’s been looking for assistance on a most important mission; one that involves traveling up to the North Pole and helping an elf up there named Castor. As children listen to the story, they are offered opportunities to take part in guided imagery exercises where they close their eyes and visualize the places they’re visiting, as well as performing modified calisthenics and simple body movements as their part in making the magic happen.
Elves Up North is an original and inventive work that gets kids directly involved in the action that takes place. I enjoyed seeing how Walters sets up the plot, starting with that visit to the Maestro’s little cabin in the woods. While I ordinarily prefer the visualization and guided imagery exercises, I found the inclusion of physical movements and exercises to be an intriguing addition to this offering as it will, no doubt, help some overactive kids get more involved in the action without feeling tied down and restless. The holiday aspects of this story bring a real feeling of Christmas cheer including, at one point, an opportunity for readers to sing Jingle Bells while visiting the Elves’ Great Hall. Walters gives the elves clever and funny names which add to the interactive nature of the tale as kids figure out the derivation of names such as Ginger Breadman and Ren Deer. And the quest the readers take, which is to help Castor, a very sad little elf, is a grand one indeed. Elves Up North Is guaranteed to get everyone in the mood for the Christmas season and it’s highly recommended.