cover image Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf

Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf

Greg Wolfe, illus. by Howard McWilliam. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-61963-521-0

With exaggerated drawings reminiscent of Mad magazine spoofs, McWilliam (When a Dragon Moves In) makes the most of newcomer Wolfe’s comical story. After discovering that some “quite good” children aren’t getting visits from Santa, an elf named Shmelf learns what’s up from the head elf, who tells him, “of course you don’t know, since you’re still quite newish,/ But the kids on this list are actually Jewish.” Intrigued, Shmelf does some reconnaissance at a Jewish home where Hanukkah is in joyous swing, then gets himself appointed the Hanukkah elf—complete with a blue and white costume, a Jewish reindeer named Asher, and a mandate to make Hanukkah a little more “magical.” Three cheers for Shmelf for recognizing that “Hanukkah’s awesome! I’m totally in,” though it may rankle some families to see the Santa juggernaut expand to include Hanukkah, too. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)