Top Elf

by Caleb Huett (Author)

Top Elf
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

These elves are off the shelves.

Ollie and Celia think they know what the life of an elf is supposed to be like: Make toys. Help Santa. Make more toys. Help Santa. Try out a new ice-cream flavor. Help Santa.

But then Santa rocks the North Pole with a surprise announcement! He's decided this is going to be his last year in the Big Red Suit--and instead of letting his oldest son, the unfortunately named Klaus Claus, take over, he's opening up the job to any kid who wants to apply--Claus or elf.

The Santa Trials have begun!

Ollie and Celia enter the contest, having no idea whatsoever that they'll soon have to squeeze through impossible chimneys, race runaway sleighs, sweet-talk a squad of rowdy reindeer, and consume cruel amounts of cookies and milk. It's both an adventure and a survival test, far beyond what any elf or Claus has been asked to do before. But whoever rises to the top will get a reward even bigger than Christmas . . .

Publishers Weekly

Who will fill Santa's shiny black boots when he decides to hang up the "Big Red Suit"? In bookseller Huett's high-energy debut, the answer is decided by a reality TV-style competition called the Santa Trials--think the Hunger Games with less bloodshed and more gingerbread. When Santa announces his plan for choosing a successor, his four children are among the contestants, as are elf best friends Ollie Gnome and Celia Pixie. The characters often talk as though they're in the midst of a sugar rush as they attempt to avoid elimination by building high-tech sleighs and red suits, corralling flying reindeer, squeezing through tricky chimneys, and gulping down more than 100 cookies with milk. Some readers may tire of the numerous parenthetical asides and all-caps outbursts, but this whirlwind holiday escapade ends on a touching note, with lots of laughs and wild twists along the way. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-5--A charming story starring elves from the North Pole. Ollie Gnome and Celia Pixie are entering into the first-ever Next Santa competition, where they will brave many holiday-themed challenges in an effort to replace the current iteration of Santa Claus. Members of the Claus clan--including one of Santa's children, Klaus Claus--and many elves are competing for the top spot. Huett has crafted a vibrant and lovable lead character in Ollie. The story is fast-paced with lots of action to counteract the sweetness. Numerous Christmas puns pepper the text throughout, adding humor. The messages of friendship and teamwork are admirable. VERDICT A light and funny read, perfect for children who celebrate Santa Claus's arrival each December and are interested in a can-do protagonist.--Chad Lane, Tulip Grove Elementary School, MD

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Caleb Huett
Caleb Zane Huett is a tabletop gamemaster, former bookseller, and definitely not a dog with a pen name. He's a graduate of the University of Georgia, and he's really good at trading card games. Eight different dogs have protected him throughout the years, and he currently has two cats who are furious they weren't featured in this book. You can find him at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2017
Age Range
8 - 12 years

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