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Spread Joy with Sue Fliess!

Hello, readers, writers, and holiday enthusiasts, too! We're ecstatic to have the prolific Sue Fliess on the blog with us today. Sue, author of over 50 books, is here sharing Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins (illustrated by Mark Chambers) and How to Trick a Christmas Elf (illustrated by Simon Sanflippo) - two perfectly fitting books for the season. Want to know more about Sue, how she got her start in writing, PLUS want a chance to win a signed copy of one of her books? Read on...

Q: Hi, Sue. Thanks so much for joining #SeasonsOfKidLit! I’m thrilled to have you and talk all about your wonderful holiday books: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins and How to Trick a Christmas Elf.

First, you’re the author of over 50 books, have written for The Walt Disney Company, and have contributed to many magazines, too. How fascinating! Can you share more about yourself with the readers?

A: That is a loaded question! Haha. I will share that never in a million years did I dream that in the span of 10 years I would have 50 published children’s books. And I still get imposter syndrome! But I am so fortunate that publishers continue to make my stories into books to share with kids. It took me a while to really connect with the kind of writing I loved and was good at. I wrote lots of poetry as a young girl. I wrote journalistic articles. Short stories. Personal essays. Yet I always came back to my poetry. But it wasn’t until I was reading tons of picture books to my first son that it clicked – could the rhyming poems I’d loved to write for so long possibly work as picture books? It was a wonderful revelation that I only wish I’d figured out sooner. I never had an author visit my school as a kid, so when I visit schools now, I tell all the students that this is a career they could have one day (writer or illustrator or both) and that they don’t have to wait until they are in their 30’s like I did!

Q: Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins is a sweet rhyming read that follows Mrs. Claus as she steps in when Santa’s sick and can’t make his yearly trip around the world. What are some fun events and scenes we can expect to see in your story?

A: My thinking behind this book is that while we all know Santa has magic, I never thought of Mrs. Claus as magical or being able to wield magic like her spouse. As a fellow woman, I believe that Mrs. Claus is the one keeping the North Pole running, but in more of a behind-the-scenes type of way. She’s practical. Logical. She makes lists. She gets things done. So I wanted to make sure that came across in the story. She uses her wit and grit to handle the big job--not magic. Which lead to some fantastic illustrations by Mark Chambers. Look for the time she realizes the sleigh is leaking. Or when the reins get tangled up on reindeer antlers. Or when they nearly have a mid-air collision with another flying animal. The illustrations are fun and funny and you can see firsthand how Mrs. Claus handles these situations with grace.

Q: Your book, How to Trick a Christmas Elf, is an adorable and also wonderfully-rhymed read about kids who trick Christmas elves in order to find out if they’re on the naughty or nice list. What a fun storyline! What do you think readers young and old will enjoy most about this story?

A: We are all aware of elves on shelves. But the idea that Santa watches us all year long was around long before he had the brilliant idea to send his elves down to do that task. When it comes to Christmas, we all just really want to know if we’ve made the nice list. So while they ‘trick’ or distract the elf into leaving his list out them out for them to glance at, they do it in a way that is kind. They make a miniature sleigh for him (craft in the book!) and see that he’s so touched by the gift they are automatically put on the nice list. I think all readers can appreciate the idea that doing nice things for others will always win in the end. When you choose kindness, you are rewarded. And a bonus is that if readers make the craft in the book, they'll have a great holiday decoration or even an ornament for the tree!

Q: What are some of your favorite spreads from each book?

A: In Mrs. Claus, my favorite 2-page spread is when they almost collide with the duck. “Look out!” shouted Rudolph.

In Christmas Elf, my favorite spread is when the kids are thinking up their plan to build the elf a sleigh.

Q: What makes both of these books perfect for the holidays?

A: Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, both books have something special for the holidays.

MRS. CLAUS TAKES THE REINS shows kids there is more than one way to solve a problem, and that you have to try, even if the stakes may be high. Santa was ready to cancel Christmas, but Mrs. Claus used her creativity and ingenuity to take over, even though she’d never done the job before. She had to be brave to save Christmas.

In HOW TO TRICK A CHRISTMAS ELF, illustrated beautifully by Simona Sanfilippo, the takeaway is that kindness prevails. The kids may not have realized that their plan to distract the elf was actually going to result in them making a gift for the elf, but that’s what happened. And since elves are usually the ones making the gifts for kids, it became a wonderful role reversal. Everybody wins!

They both sound wonderful, Sue! Thanks again for joining us today. It was such a pleasure!

Q: How would you like to Spread Joy this holiday season?

A: I will give away a signed copy of either Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins or How to Trick a Christmas Elf to one reader!

What an amazing way to spread joy, Sue. Thank you!

Giveaway Details: To enter to win this wonderful giveaway, comment below and let Sue know why you can't wait to read her books, and which book you'd love to own. The winner will be chosen on or about December 16th!

Note: books will be shipped in the US only.

Reminder, those who comment on every post will be eligible to win (1) of (5) RYS Speedpasses or a special book package!

About Sue Fliess

Sue Fliess ("fleece") is the award-winning, bestselling author of Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket, Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins, How to Trap a Leprechaun, Mary Had a Little Lab, and dozens of other children's books, including Rumble and Roar, the Beatrice Bly's Rules for Spies series, the Kid Scientist series, the Magical Creatures and Crafts series, and many Little Golden Books. Her books have sold over 850k copies worldwide and have been translated into many languages. Her background is in copywriting, PR and marketing, and she's contributed to O Magazine, HuffPo, Writer's Digest, & more. Fliess has also written for Walt Disney. Her books have received honors from SCBWI, been named to ALA Notable lists, many "Best Of" lists, have been used in school curricula, museum educational programs, and included in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in the US and Australia. She's a member of SCBWI & Children's Book Guild of DC. She does school visits and speaking engagements and lives with her family and two yellow labs in Virginia. Visit her at

For more about Sue, you can follow her on Twitter // Instagram // & Facebook!

To purchase Sue's books, or to leave a review for them, click here.


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You have a fantastic imagination, Sue! Love the rhymes you shared :)


I am in awe of your rhyming skills, Sue! Both books look amazing. I especially love Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins because she is a strong female character! Happy Holidays to you and thank you for sharing your books with #SeasonsofKidLit!


Dec 13, 2022

These books are a must for my grandsons' Christmas book collection! Continued luck with your publishing success!


Wow, 50 books?! You're blowing my mind. I'd really enjoy a copy of How to Trick a Christmas Elf. Thanks so much.


Christina Shawn
Christina Shawn
Dec 12, 2022

I truly enjoy every one of your books! I love the creative and fresh concepts behind both of these holiday books, especially the one that highlights Mrs. Clause. Thank you for doing what you do!

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