Five Alien Elves (Hamlet Chronicles Series #3)


On the night before Christmas, something is flying over Hamlet, Vermont, but it isn't a sleigh with reindeer. It's a UFO bearing five aliens on a mission: to free this planet from its evil dictator, a fat man in a red suit and a long white beard. Disguised as Earthlings--well, elves--they meet Mayor Grass, fresh from his annual appearance in Santa Claus costume, and capture him. It's up to Miss Earth's students, the Tattletales (all the girls except Pearl) and the Copycats (all the boys), to set aside their ...

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On the night before Christmas, something is flying over Hamlet, Vermont, but it isn't a sleigh with reindeer. It's a UFO bearing five aliens on a mission: to free this planet from its evil dictator, a fat man in a red suit and a long white beard. Disguised as Earthlings--well, elves--they meet Mayor Grass, fresh from his annual appearance in Santa Claus costume, and capture him. It's up to Miss Earth's students, the Tattletales (all the girls except Pearl) and the Copycats (all the boys), to set aside their differences and concoct a rescue scheme.

In this Yuletide sequel to Seven Spiders Spinning and Six Haunted Hairdos, visitors from the Planet Fixipuddle join the familiar folks of Hamlet--Miss Earth, Grandma Earth, and the rival Tattletales and Copycats--in a comic extravaganza that is literally out of this world.

Gregory Maguire frequently writes and speaks on children's literature. The author of novels for adults and children, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Elaine Clayton, illustrator of Six Haunted Hairdos, lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The town of Hamlet has a very unusual Christmas when aliens crash land in their space ship, escalating the competition between rival clubs, the Copycats and the Tattletales.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Kelly
'Twas the night before Christmas, and the spaceship Loiterbug, carrying five aliens from the planet Fixipuddle, has crash-landed behind a barn in the small town of Hamlet, Vermont. The Fixipuddlings, having misinterpreted an Earthling Christmas movie picked up by their scan-o-matic, disguise themselves as elves and set out to save Earth from the evil dictator Santa Claws ("He knows when they're sleeping! He knows when they're awake!"). When they meet Mayor Grass, who is dressed as the jolly old elf, they kidnap him in the name of all that is just. The whole town goes into panic, but, as in the author previous Hamlet books, Miss Earth's elementary school class saves the day. The children are a delightfully wacky bunch, from Lois Kennedy the Third, who is determined to get herself elected "Empress" of her club, the Tattletales, to Sammy Grubb, who believes wholeheartedly in Bigfoot. The sharp writing provides comic twists at every turn, and Maguire never misses a beat. Fans of the earlier books will gobble up this installment, and new readers will be drawn to the sheer kookiness of it all. Recommend this book to readers who can't get enough of Louis Sachar's "Wayside School" series.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5--This off-the-wall story continues the saga of two rival clubs chronicled in Seven Spiders Spinning (1994) and Six Haunted Hairdos (1997, both Clarion). When five aliens from planet Fixipuddle crash-land in Hamlet, VT on Christmas Eve, they misinterpret a Christmas special on television, and end up kidnapping the town mayor. The Copycats and the Tattletales, aided by their teacher Miss Earth and a dog named Reebok, come up with a wild plan to rescue him and teach the Fixipuddlings the meaning of Christmas. The tone is light and zany, with jokes and puns galore. The characterization is thin as ice and the plot is as improbable as, well, snow in July or aliens in December, but that is beside the point. Kids will lap up this insubstantial but yummy tale as if it were a candy cane.--EM
Kirkus Reviews
Fresh from an encounter with ghost mastodons (Six Haunted Hairdos, 1997), Miss Earth's fifth-grade class readily takes on a new challenge in this eccentric holiday story from Maguire. When Mayor Timothy Grass disappears, all of Hamlet, Vermont, is abuzz with rumors; in Miss Earth's class opinion is about evenly divided between the Tattletales (girls), who think he fell into a time warp, and the Copycats (boys), who blame Bigfoot. Neutral Pearl Hotchkiss's suggestion that he was abducted by aliens is discounted, but she's right. Having glimpsed a Christmas movie on the visor screen before their crash landing, five aliens from planet Fixipuddle are out to free the slaves from "Santa Claw's" workshop and end his evil domination of the world; when Mayor Grass strolls by, still in his Santa suit from a school visit, they tie him up and apply tickle torture to make him reveal the location of his Fortress of Fear (the workshop). After an unsuccessful attempt to disguise themselves as Keebler-style elves, the aliens recruit Lois Kennedy's beagle, Reebok, to spy for them, equipping him with a universal translator that allows him to talk. Their mistake: Reebok's a double agent. The Tattletales and Copycats accept Reebok's story, put aside all rivalries, and spring into action, converting the classroom into a "workshop" of broken toys for the aliens to "liberate." This clever comedy, with humor both broad and sly, has the odd combination of hilariously fractious aliens and a generous measure of Christmas cheerþbut it works. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-11)
From the Publisher
"This clever comedy, with humor both braod and sly, has the odd combination of hilariously fractious aliens and a generous amount of Christmas cheer, but it works." Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064407649
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: Hamlet Chronicles Series , #3
  • Edition description: First HarperTrophy Edition, Ages 8-12
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire is the popular author of many books for children, including the Hamlet Chronicles for Clarion, as well as several adult books, including WICKED (HarperCollins), upon which a Broadway musical was based, and its sequel, CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER (Regan Books). He lives in Concord, Massachusetts.


Raised in a family of writers (his father was a journalist and his stepmother a poet), Gregory Maguire grew up with a great love of books, especially fairy tales and fantasy fiction. He composed his own stories from an early age and released his first book for children, The Lightning Time, in 1978, just two years after graduating from the State University of New York at Albany.

Several other children's book followed, but major recognition eluded Maguire. Then, in 1995, he published his first adult novel. A bold, revisionist view of Frank L. Baum's classic Oz stories, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West places one of literature's most reviled characters at the center of a dark dystopian fantasy and raises provocative questions about the very nature of good and evil. Purists criticized Maguire for tampering with a beloved juvenile classic, but the book received generally good reviews (John Updike, writing in The New Yorker, proclaimed it "an amazing novel.") and the enthusiasm of readers catapulted it to the top of the bestseller charts. (Maguire's currency increased even further when the book was turned into the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Wicked in 2003.)

In the wake of his breakthrough novel, Maguire has made something of a specialty out of turning classic children's tales on their heads. He retold the legends of Cinderella and Snow White in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999) and Mirror, Mirror (2003); he raised the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge in Lost (2001); and, in 2005, he returned to Oz for Son of a Witch, the long-awaited sequel to Wicked. He has reviewed fantasy fiction for the Sunday New York Times Book Review and has contributed his own articles, essays, and stories to publications like Ploughshares, The Boston Review, the Christian Science Monitor, and The Horn Book Magazine.

In addition, Maguire has never lost his interest in -- or enthusiasm for -- children's literature. He is the author of The Hamlet Chronicles, a bestselling seven-book series of high-camp mystery-adventures with silly count-down titles like Seven Spiders Spinning and Three Rotten Eggs. He has taught at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and is a founding member of Children's Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit organization that focuses attention on the significance of literature in the lives of children.

Good To Know

In our interview, Maguire shared some fun facts with us about his life:

"While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon. I built terraces with chunks of Monterey jack, had a forest of broccoli florets and a lagoon of Seven Seas salad dressing spooned into a half a honeydew melon. I made reed patches out of scallion tips and walkways out of sesame seeds lined with raisin borders. Driving to the party, I had to brake to avoid a taxi, and by the time the police flagged me down for poor driving skills I was nearly weeping. ‘But Officer, I have a quickly decomposing Hanging Gardens of Babylon to deliver....' Everything had slopped and fallen over and it looked like a tray of vegetable garbage."

"My first job was scooping ice cream at Friendly's in Albany, New York. I hated the work, most of my colleagues, and the uniform, and I more or less lost my taste for ice cream permanently."

"If I hadn't been a writer, I would have tried to be one of the following: An artist (watercolors), a singer/songwriter like Paul Simon (taller but not very much more), an architect (domestic), a teacher. Actually, in one way or another I have done all of the above, but learned pretty quickly that my skills needed more honing for me to charge for my services, and I'd always rather write fiction than hone skills."

"I steal a bit from one of my favorite writers to say, simply, that I enjoy, most of all, old friends and new places. I love to travel. Having small children at home now impedes my efforts a great deal, but I have managed in my time to get to Asia, Africa, most of Europe, and Central America. My wish list of places not yet visited includes India, Denmark, Brazil, and New Zealand, and my wish for friends not yet made includes, in a sense, readers who are about to discover my work, either now or even when I'm no longer among the living. In a sense, in anticipation, I value those friends in a special way."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Albany, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Crashing Through the Snow
in a Beat-Up UFO

'Twas the night before Christmas, and you know the rest. The stockings were hung by the chimneys with care and, in one house, Superglue. The youngest kids were already in bed. Many adults were saying, "If you don't go to sleep, SantaClaus is never going to come!"

Something was coming. But it wasn't Santa Claus.

In wobbly circles, an unidentified flying object was whisking over the town of Hamlet, Vermont. The UFO was shaped like a Big Mac, only without grease dripping from the bottom. If the night hadn't been so cold, maybe more people would have been out caroling. More folks would have sighted the UFO. But the few people who looked up thought they were seeing a shooting star. A shooting star doing loop-de-loops.

Inside the UFO, an argument was in progress.

"What's the matter with you? Where'd you get your license, the Milky Way Mall?" snorted Peppa, shaking her fingerpod at her younger brother.

"You think you can do a better job, try it," snapped Droyd. "The gravity on this planet is something fierce. I can't hold the wheel."

"You've had one glass of germ juice too many, you," said Peppa. "Get your mitts off that wheel and let me take over."

Droyd slid his oily green butt off the saddle and slithered over to the window. "It's a very strange world, Peppa," he said. "So white, and all those leafless, lifeless trees! I don't like it. I get a bad feeling. Let's alert the others. They can steer us out of this planet's gravity."

"We won't crash. I'm a great driver," said Peppa, as she twirled the steering wheel like a pro. "Now why don't you makeyourself useful? Find out if this place is inhabited. Try to pick up something on the radio-wave scanner."

"You mean the Galaxy Blaster?" said Droyd. He lifted a fingerpod and pressed a switch. Static screeched at once, like fingernails on blackboards. Peppa and Droyd didn't know what fingernails were, or blackboards. But they reacted the same way anyone in the universe does. They hunched up their shoulders (or what passed for shoulders). They clenched their teeth in the back of their mouths and tightened the lids around their eyes. "Is that how the locals speak? I'll never learn the language," said Droyd.

"You silly thing, you already learned the language. We're speaking it right now. Our WordSearch dials teach us any local dialect we're within brain waves of."

"Listen! I've got something!" Droyd's yellow eyes throbbed out of their sockets.

Though scratchy with interference, some musical words came through. 'We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas." Droyd looked at Peppa, not understanding. 'We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

"What's a Hairy Crust-mess?" said Droyd.

"You are. Blow your noses, you're dripping," said Peppa meanly. She handed her brother some paper nose wipes. But the next thing they heard made even Peppa breathe in sharply.

Now bring us a figgy pudding,
now bring us a figgy pudding.
Now bring us a figgy pudding,
and bring it fight here!

"Oh, Peppa! " said Droyd. Tears formed behind his ears and dripped all the way down into his traveling socks. "It must be a message from the government. They know we're here! Five Fixipuddlings from the planet of Fixipuddle! They're calling for us! What shall we do?"

Peppa tried to look brave, but she trembled a little bit. And then the space ship started to shimmy. Were the guards of this planet sending out crashvibes to cause their little starship Loiterbug to falter? The on-line encyclopedia had said this planet was mild and somewhat backward. Peppa hadn't expected a hostile welcome!

"Droyd, I'm afraid we may be in for a bigger adventure than we expected," she said, biting her lips. "Perhaps you should go wake up Narr, Foomie, and Pimplemuss. If we're going down into captivity, we'd better all be awake and on our best behavior."

The shimmy became a shake, and the shake became a shudder. Peppa pulled up on the throttle and tried to activate the fibrillator fins, but something went wrong. "Droyd!" she screamed. "Everyone! Crash positions! Put on your safety socks! We're going down!"

Dasher and Dancer and
Prancer and So On

A couple of miles away, a holiday party was in full swing at the Josiah Fawcett Elementary School.

The children of Miss Earth's class were dizzy with good cheer. Well, why not? It felt strange to be in the classroom at night, especially since the classroom had been transformed.

All the desks were pushed back against the wall. Hanging from the light fixtures, pine boughs glittered with white lights. Tinsel dangled along the flagpole. Holly was bunched in the pencil jar. Swags of greenery looped from the chalk tray. Even the gerbil cage sported a sprig of plastic mistletoe, which the gerbils were munching on with gusto.

Pearl Hotchkiss staggered around, blindfolded, with a red rubber ball held out in her right hand. She was trying to Pin the Red Nose on Rudolph. (Hector Yellow, the best artist in the class, had sketched a picture of a noseless reindeer on the blackboard.) Pearl almost landed the nose on the toe of Miss Earth's stocking, which hung with fifteen others on the bulletin board. All her classmates screeched with laughter, so she backed up and tried again.

Miss Earth was blowing her nose into a hankie embroidered with patterns of holly and mistletoe. She had been out sick for the last few days of school due to a bad December cold. Her students had voted to postpone their holiday party until she was well enough to join them. Since Christmas Eve was the first available moment, a classroom party was jingle-belling along for another fifteen minutes. Then parents would arrive to pick up their kids.

Five Alien Elves . Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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