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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 ...
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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.
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.