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Holiday lessons: Cliff the Clumsy Elf teaches kids to be prepared and kind

TUNNELTON — The elf that visited South Preston on Wednesday won’t fit on a shelf, but he can teach a lesson that’s as good now as in the other 11 months of the year.

“Cliff The Clumsy Elf” is the creation of John Wayne Lipscomb, who looks to his children and his time growing up in Preston County for inspiration.

“My youngest daughter, we were always running late and not prepared, especially in the mornings, so I did this book to bring a little more awareness on being prepared,” he said. “Not only that, there are some elves in the book that laugh at Cliff when he falls, so I also wanted to reiterate to the kids that we should always want to lift people up. It’s not nice to laugh at them when they fall.”

In the book, Cliff starts out working in the reindeer barn but dreams of working in Santa’s workshop. Through talking with Santa, Cliff learns to be better prepared and organized and works his way up to his dream job.

Lipscomb’s cousin, Christina Bever, was in the elf costume. Bever said the costume allows her to overcome her normal shyness.

“I enjoy seeing the kids’ reaction and how they respond to something they wouldn’t normally see,” Bever said.

“Cliff The Clumsy Elf” is not Lipscomb’s first book. He also wrote “Cliff Saves Easter.” And with his younger daughter, he co-authored an alphabet book that includes “did you knows” about each letter.

The books are illustrated by West Virginia University graduate Taylor Miller.

A cookbook is in the works with Rusty, Cliff’s jackalope friend in the Easter book. Lipscomb also co-wrote an earlier book, “A Country Spring,” with photos of farms across West Virginia.

“I didn’t really dream of writing children’s books,” Lipscomb said. “I just started doing it, and I’ve loved it. And I’ve learned along the way. We never stop learning.”

South Preston kindergarten teacher Lisa Pifer is very familiar with the Lipscomb family. She taught Lipscomb when he was in school, his older daughter and now has his daughter, Lisa, in class.

Name sound familiar?

That’s because when the Lipscombs were expecting their second child, the eldest wanted to name her new sister “Mrs. Pifer” after her teacher. They settled on Pifer’s first name instead.

Pifer said she thinks the books teach children about being prepared.

Lipscomb’s books are available on, but one thing you won’t find them in is an electronic format.

“When I was a kid, we only had cartoons Saturday mornings. The rest of the time, we had the Little Golden Books, and I’ve noticed that families are pulling away from that,” Lipscomb said. “I want my books to bring Mom and Dad and child together to read it together and not on a computer, flipping through a screen.”

A percentage of the proceeds from sales of the books is donated to South Preston and to WVU Medicine Children’s.

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