Most helpful critical review
158 of 189 people found the following review helpful
Elf on the Shelf - VS - Christopher Pop-In-Kins
on September 18, 2013
I have a 3-year-old and considered entering the insanity that is "Elf on a Shelf." In reading reviews, I discovered an alternative: "Christopher Pop-In-Kins" Our local library had a complete gift set of both mischievous elf stories and companion elves. Here is a comparison..
THE STORIES ARE INCREDIBLY SIMILAR
I am utterly stunned by the similarities in the two stories. In fact, I am amazed that the author of the "Christopher" book (written in 1985) hasn't sued the "Elf" author (written in 2005) for plagiarism.
* Both elves have been sent by Santa to keep an eye on their assigned child/children and report back to Santa
* Both elves relocate within their assigned home each evening
* Both elves are not to be touched by the children in the home
* Consequences for touching either elf is the same--he/she will have to go back to Santa for awhile
* Both elves are to return to Santa on Christmas eve
* Size of books are almost identical
* Illustrations are more vivid with a lot of primary colors
* The story is narrative in fashion
* The book spends most of the time explaining why Santa sent him to your home
(Christopher was sad and wanted to see the children who the elves had been making toys for, so Santa decided to use Christopher as a spy, of sorts.)
"ELF ON A SHELF"
* Illustrations are more subdued and resemble dry water colors with a lot of peach/orange/rust
* The story is told in a rhyming fashion
* The book spends most of the time telling the reader about the actual process of hiding each day
COMPARING THE ELF FIGURES
* For something that is to be a family heirloom and last year after year, both elves are remarkably lacking in substance, quality and design. If I saw these sold as Christmas decorations in a store, I would never even consider buying either one. It's a shame because elves and Christmas figures can be so cute.
* Both elves are of passible quality
* "Elf" is about 10-inches tall and quite lanky; "Christopher is about 8-inches tall, but much more substantial
* Both elves arms and legs are very very thin and wiry
* "Elf" has very long, very thin legs; "Christopher" has shorter thin legs with more substantial body and large boots
* Both elves have a soft plastic head/face/hair
* "Christopher" also has soft plastic boots, hat & scarf
* "Christopher" looks a bit more cute and cartoon-like
* "Elf" has more of a sophisticated pixie look
* I find both elves to be pitiful and would like to find an alternative somewhere else
* "Elf" - You get to name your elf
* "Elf" - Elf comes in a variety of eye/hair/skin colors and choice of gender
* "Elf" - I found the relaying of the story a bit more cleaver and engaging because of the rhyming
* "Christopher" - I find his name (Christopher Pop-In-Kins) to be rather hokey
* "Elf" - You can now purchase a number of accessories for you elf (skirt, apron, etc.) While some may find this to be a positive, I find it to be a great example of marketing vultures. (Dear Company: Put some more time and money into making a decent-looking elf in the first place so people don't have to pay even more for a half-inch semi-circle skirt to try and jazz up a sorry looking felt figure.)
* "Elf" - I am pretty disgusted by the blatant plagiarism of story and idea. I mean, could they have at least made him a reindeer or snowman?
BOTTOM LINE: I really Really REALLY wanted to like the "Christopher Pop-In-Kins" book and elf better. I really did. This author would seem to be the initial person behind the idea, and I tend to go for the little guy. However, I found myself more interested in the "Elf on a Shelf" book--probably due to the cleaver rhyming. I also liked the idea of being able to name your own elf. I would probably give the illustrations in the "Christopher" book a slight edge due to the colorful pictures.
As far as the elf figures go, it is really a matter of personal preference. Their length and quality are quite similar, and I think either one would work well in different hiding places and poses. They have such different looks that one is bound to appeal to a person more than the other.
I will probably go for "Christopher," simply because he looks different than every other elf in everyone else's house. Not to mention, I would like to support the camp of the person who came up with this idea so long ago but didn't seem to have the marketing power behind her.
Let the Insanity Begin...