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Meet Dorothea Jensen - Local Author

Nov 20, 2013 02:20PM ● Published by Ryan Frisch

Dorothea JensenMeet Dorothea Jensen

Born in Boston, Author of Tizzy, the Christmas Elf; Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; and Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf and winner of a Mom's Choice Award!

Q. When did you start writing about Santa’s Izzy Elves?

I first wrote Tizzy’s story in 1991. Although it was automatically copyrighted at that

time, I didn’t register it for copyright officially until 1999. It was originally titled The Elf

on the Shelf. Unfortunately, titles cannot be copyrighted, and someone else eventually

used that title, so I changed mine to Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf before publishing it as a

Kindle book in 2011.

Q. When did you write the two sequels?

In 2012, I was working on my new historical novel for children, A Buss From

LaFayette, when I heard devastating news: my only brother, just one year my senior, had

been diagnosed with terminal cancer. For the next ten months, I was deeply involved in

his care and treatment, and was unable to continue with the complex task of writing

historical fiction. I found, however, that creating stories about elves was an excellent

way to escape for a little while from the problems of real life. I wrote most of Blizzy, the

Worrywart Elf at his bedside and most of Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf soon after he passed

away. Ironically enough, I was literally putting the illustrations into the Blizzy book

when I learned my father was also dying and I completed it two days after he passed

away. Losing two family members in less than six months was tough, but it reminded

me how fleeting life is, and inspired me to write while I still have time.

Q. Who is your target reader?

School-aged kids and their parents, grandparents, teachers, et al. I use some words

that children probably don’t know and they will need an explanation from an adult.

Besides, I try to make stories that adults will enjoy, too. Furthermore, I do not like to

write “down” to children: I believe that entertaining stories are great avenues for

discovering fun new words.

When I wrote The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, my editors at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

pressured me to remove archaic words because they thought kids would not

understand them. I (mostly) prevailed, and almost all the fan letters I’ve received from

young readers over the years have stated that they loved the interesting old words.

Q. How did you come up with the names for the elves?

I named my first elf Tizzy to convey the idea that he was pretty upset with being

stranded so far away from the North Pole - in a tizzy, so to speak. Then I discovered that

putting -izzy together with other initial consonants yielded surprisingly meaningful

names for elves: Quizzy - who makes puzzles; Blizzy - who makes snow globes; Fizzy

and Dizzy - who make “toys that surprise”; Frizzy - who cuts and curls the dolls’ hair;

Bizzy - who like to boss the other elves; and Whizzy - who rushes around wrapping

presents. Then it occurred to me that they are all known as Santa’s Izzy Elves.

Q. Will there be stories for all of the Izzy Elves?

There certainly will. I pretty much know what happens to Frizzy, Whizzy, Quizzy,

Bizzy, and Fizzy. Just have to carve it out into poems.

Q. Is writing poetry difficult for you?

Not at all. It almost writes itself. I like to say that I have eight elves inside my brain

dictating poetry for me to write down. Sometimes it really feels as if that is what is

happening. If I get stuck, I use a rhyming dictionary, find an interesting synonym with

the right rhythm, and use it to shape my line, but I don’t need to do that very often.

Q. Who are the boys in your Izzy Elves stories?

They are my grandsons. Their response has been interesting. Alex (at age three)

pointed out that the story that he and his brother are in, has rhyming words in it. Owen

explained to me that Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf wasn’t real because 1) they don’t have

an upstairs at their house, and 2) he doesn’t know how to turn on the Christmas tree

lights, as he does in the poem. I told him that was the “pretend” part. Alex was

delighted because when he analyzed the illustration showing them in bunk beds, he

was the one in the top bunk (he figured that out by the color of the PJs). They don’t

have bunk beds, and Alex wants to get the top bunk if they do get them. Maybe he

thinks this establishes a precedent for his claim.

The boys in Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf are two more grandsons, Stuart and Drake. They

also argued about who should be shown in the upper bunk, as Stuart, the older, is the

upper bunker in real life and Drake, the lower bunker, apparently yearns to be top dog.

I recently overheard Stuart explain to his little brother that I get up early because elves

pop into my head and wake me up. Not far from the truth.

I have two more grandsons: Miles and Henry, but they are newborn twins, so I have

awhile to figure out how to put them into a story.

Q. Why are you publishing these stories yourself?

After trying unsuccessfully to get the first of these published (as The Elf on the Shelf) I

put the manuscript on a shelf (if you’ll pardon the phrase) for nearly twenty years. In

November, 2011, I found out it was possible to publish on and decided to

release it myself. Of course, by then, I had to change the name to Tizzy, the Christmas

Shelf Elf to avoid confusion. I also changed the names of the kids to those of my own

grandkids, who weren’t even born when I wrote the original story. Via the internet I

found an illustrator, Michelle Alfonso, to create a cover for me. She had just graduated

from art school and was from Manchester, New Hampshire, not far from where I live.

This year she fully illustrated the story. I discovered it was great fun to be able to help

shape the marvelous images that she conjured up of all my elves.

When The Riddle of Penncroft Farm was being readied for publication, many years ago, I

had no input on the cover art that Harcourt Brace Jovanovich commissioned. Thus the

original cover showed Geordie as being somewhat transparent, a condition that would

surely have revealed immediately to Lars, the modern protagonist, that Geordie was a

ghost (or “shade”, the term Geordie prefers). I told my editor that this made no sense in

terms of the story, but Geordie stayed transparent.

I have discovered that it is much more satisfying to work directly with an illustrator.

Q. Will Michelle Alfonso be illustrating the rest of the stories?

Unfortunately, her schedule did not allow her to undertake more stories at this time.

However, I am hoping she might be able to work on one of the later sequels: I do love

her pictures of my elves.

Meanwhile, I found two wonderful new illustrators to do the pictures for the next two

Izzy Elves stories. Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf, illustrated by Shayne Hood, and Dizzy, the

Stowaway Elf, illustrated by Andrea Agostini, are now available as trade paperbacks,

Kindle books, and audiobooks. It has been great fun watching my ideas become visible

as illustrations!

Q. Why did you decide to record audiobooks of your own work?

It’s not always easy to read poetry aloud, and my poem-stories are a little longer

than many read-aloud books. I thought that parents, grandparents, or any grown-up

might like to have a recorded version to play for their kids if they themselves just

cannot stand the thought of reading one of my stories aloud for the umpteenth time. I

have done quite a bit of acting, and I’m comfortable using a microphone. I just read the

poems as if I were reading them to one of my grandchildren. In fact, I felt as if I were

“acting” the role of an adult reading to a much-loved child. I found a terrific

professional recording studio in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, Rocking House Studio, and

had a wonderful time reading my stories aloud there.

Q. Do you have plans for merchandise based on these stories?

A. Yes! Next year I hope to see Izzy Elf dolls in the hands of children. I am also

planning to do an app for each story. After that, we’ll see!

Q. How can I buy these stories?

1. Paperback editions of the first three books will be for sale at a booksigning by the

author on Friday, December 13 from 5-7 p.m. and on Saturday, December 14

from 10-12 a.m. at Polkadots Gift Boutique, 902 Main St., Contoocook, NH.

2. Paperback editions can be ordered directly from CreateSpace:




3. Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased at The

downloadable audiobook is available at,, and iTunes.

You can also order them via my website,, or my Amazon author page: Paperbacks and Nooks are available at

Meet Dorthea Jensen in person at the following book signings:

Thumb_dorothea-jensem Children's Author Dorothea Jensen Book Signing
Friday, December 13, 2013 | 05:00PM - 07:00PM
Signing paperback editions of new stories in verse: Tizy, the Christmas Elf; Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; and Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf at Polkadots Gift Boutique. Read More


Thumb_dorothea-jensem Children's Author Dorothea Jensen Book Signing
Saturday, December 14, 2013 | 10:00AM - 12:00PM
Signing paperback editions of new stories in verse: Tizy, the Christmas Elf; Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; and Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf at Polkadots Gift Boutique. Read More

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