COLUMN: A serious case of elves

And so ’twas the week before Christmas, and all through the Library not an elf was stirring—because they all had their noses in books.

Remember Dewey, the Library Shelf Elf (or ShElf) and her friend Spineworth? Remember the trouble they’ve had in past Christmases, trying to manage that out-of-control gnome OverDude?

Well, it seems that this year, OverDude made a new friend.

And so ’twas the week before Christmas, and all through the Library not an elf was stirring—because they all had their noses in books.

“Dewdney!” called OverDude as he tumbled through the book return slot in a swirl of icy air.

“That’s the Trail. 971.1. Dewey is the elf,” Spineworth corrected without looking up from The Hobbit.

“Whatever. Heads up, Spineless. We’ve got an important visitor.”

“Just a minute. I have to make sure Bilbo escapes the Orcs.” Spineworth turned the page, his pointy nose inches from the type. “They’re even worse than you, OverDude.”

From the book return slot there arose such a clatter, Dewey sprang from her book to see what was the matter. She and Spineworth stared at the new arrival.

“May I present CelluLloyd,” OverDude said with a flourish. “Lloyd, for short.”

The strange creature sauntered over to Spineworth. “Hmmph. Is this what you do here? Read books?”

“It is a library,” Dewey muttered defensively.

Lloyd snatched Spineworth’s book, read the cover, and snorted.

“Book, schmook,” he said. “You should see the movie. In fact, it’s showing right now.”

As it turned out, OverDude had befriended the Civic Theatre Elf — and so the debate began. Even OverDude defended The Hobbit in print form, having developed a deep admiration for Gollum. But Lloyd wouldn’t be swayed.

“Cast of thousands!” he said. “Special effects!”

“Books have special effects. They’re all in here,” countered Dewey, tapping her head.

“Movies are less work.”

“Reading increases brain power.”

“Movies come with popcorn.”

“Books are portable.”

Eventually, they reached an impasse — until Spineworth began to read, in his best bedtime-story voice.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

Dewey settled in, cross-legged, on The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria. As Spineworth read, CelluLloyd slowly settled onto a book about knitting, while OverDude snuggled up to Winnie the Pooh. It was a cozy scene in the deep, dark library night.

“Far over the misty mountains cold, to dungeons deep and caverns old, we must away ere break of day, to seek the pale enchanted gold,” intoned Spineworth after he had been reading for some time. He looked up to see Lloyd eyes closed, smile playing on his elfish lips.

OverDude was similarly lost in the story, his arms around the famous bear, thumb in his mouth.

“And that’s all for tonight, my sleepy ones,” whispered Spineworth. From Lloyd and OverDude came the soft snores of a long winter’s nap.

Lloyd woke with a start. “What? Don’t stop!”

But Spineworth closed the book. On the back cover, J.R.R. Tolkien appeared to wink. “We’ll read a little more tomorrow night.”

Lloyd pleaded, but Spineworth only smiled. “As with Christmas,” he said, “anticipation is half the fun.”

And so, for the moment, the book had won. Lloyd promised to come back; as he told his friend, “Dude, I have to know if Bilbo escapes from those Orcs!”

But before he scampered off into the night (with the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow), CelluLloyd invited the ShElves to the Civic Theatre for a Christmas Eve wassail — and perhaps a little persuasion.

“Well, I’m always up for a wassail,” admitted Dewey. “And we don’t circulate much. Not like books.”

Then they heard Lloyd exclaim, ere he skipped out of sight: “Merry Christmas to all—until movie night!”

… To be continued on Wednesday, December 24.


— Anne DeGrace is the Adult Services Coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to

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