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Chelsea Flagg
Tinsey Clover
Tinsey Clover is smart. She’s brave. Also, she can’t carry a tune to save her life. Oh yeah, plus she's an elf the size of a chipmunk. When her bizarre magical power grows in and makes her feel like a total outsider in her own village, Tinsey sneaks into the forbidden forest on a journey to find someone more like her. From trolls to dragons, what she discovers along the way challenges everything, and everyone, she thought she knew. 

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot: The author is a master in the art of cliff-hanger chapter endings. Every peril confronting Tinsey is so imaginative, it's impossible to guess the outcome.

Prose/Style: Tinsey's narrative employs the classic voice of a feisty underdog, and for a plot concerning a panoply of mythical creatures (elves, trolls, dragons, and the like), the tone of this chapter book is refreshingly untwee. The action scenes are vivid and suspenseful.

Originality: This genre of child-appropriate fantasy is a popular one, but rarely are the underlying issues explored so sensitively and entertainingly. All of the fantastical elements are delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, in such a way that children's imaginations are easily engaged. The upshot is that Tinsey learns, gradually, to embrace "the other." The book is full of laudable lessons but steers clear of preachiness.

Character Development: Tinsey grows in both confidence and empathy. Readers in the target age group will enjoy relating to her anxiety and, in turn, her ever-improving competence. This stirring adventure is told from the perspective of a just-turned eleven-year-old who's suffering from a classic case of Little Sister Syndrome. Chipmunk-sized Tinsey Clover has a grievance and a voice, and both are compelling. 

Date Submitted: April 03, 2019

Chipmunk-size trealfur elf Tinsey Clover has green eyes, pointy ears, purple hair, and an affinity for math. The wall around Snugglepunk, her Icelandic Bungaborg Forest community, is designed to keep all 192 trealfurs safe, but Tinsey feels trapped. At age 11, each trealfur’s power emerges; while her blue-haired brother Aspen’s gift is communicating with animals, her father summons windstorms, and her mother sings at a certain pitch to make everything pause. Tinsey’s newly manifested gift? Making cleaning supplies appear with a snap. Disappointed, feeling like an outsider, and resolving to explore the forest, Tinsey sneaks out of Snugglepunk alone. Encountering huldufolk—including Judder the troll, Sky the rabbit, and Talia the dragon, whose kind dispositions belie their appearances—Tinsey discovers the world beyond Snugglepunk isn’t what she expected. Flagg delivers a determined heroine: resourceful Tinsey faces peril but allows her morality and bravery to guide her, with help from her brother and some new friends. Tinsey is relatable as a curious girl searching for her place in a world that needs change. Though the plot and characters lack depth, the tale underscores open-mindedness, inclusivity, and forgiveness. Ages 8–12. (Self-published.)