Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf

illus. by Howard McWilliam. 32p. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619635210.
PreS-Gr 1—If you have Jewish children worrying about why they don't get Christmas presents even though they've been good, they can thank new elf Shmelf for raising the question with Santa. After witnessing a family's Hanukkah celebrations, Shmelf is delighted: "'Hey, now I get it!' Shmelf said with a grin./'Hanukkah's awesome! I'm totally in!' " Santa, happy that Shmelf cares for Jewish children, decks him out in a blue and white outfit and sends him out with a Jewish reindeer to ensure a good holiday for eight nights in December (some years in November). Bright, colorful illustrations and a perky couplet scheme make this a viable, if odd, storytime title, but somehow the message just seems awkward and leaves a patronizingly bad taste.
VERDICT Does Santa really need to mess with Hanukkah? Not recommended.

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