Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf

Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf


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In this delightfully inventive holiday tale, an elf named Shmelf takes a journey from the North Pole . . . and discovers all the joys of Hanukkah.

Shmelf is one of Santa's most important elves. He's part of the List Checking department, and he makes sure all the good boys and girls get their presents! But when Shmelf finds out that some children are missing from Santa’s list, he goes to investigate.

What Shmelf uncovers is Hanukkah, a wondrous and joyful holiday that Jewish families celebrate each year. As Shmelf observes a family lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and hearing the Hanukkah story, he sees how special the traditions of the holiday truly are—and he wants to be a part of it! Luckily, Santa just might have a special role in mind for Shmelf . . .

The rich traditions of Hanukkah come to life in this whimsical and magical story that’s perfect for the holiday season.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619635210
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/06/2016
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 590,461
Product dimensions: 11.10(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 3 - 6 Years

About the Author

Greg Wolfe was raised a nice Jewish boy who also happened to be a true believer in Santa, elves, and flying reindeer. Greg lives in Southern California with his wife and young son (for whom he wrote Shmelf, to prove that Santa believes in him too).

Howard McWilliam left his career as a financial journalist and editor to draw pictures instead. He has illustrated eight other picture books, including I Need My Monster, which won seven state reader awards and been translated into five languages. He lives in Cheltenham, England, with his wife and two young sons.

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Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cultural appropriation occurs when the narratives of one culture are "assimilated into a Western narrative schema" (Clare Bradford). It's not that a culture is threatened, it's that it is portrayed in the light of another culture, and perceived to be lacking, which is exactly what this is. Jewish people (and the characters in the book) are proud and happy to celebrate their own holidays -- they don't need things like elves and Santa, which have nothing to do with Hanukkah or Judaism. The elf is not discovering Hanukkah and saying, "It's wonderful that Jewish people celebrate a holiday that commemorates the victory over aggressors who, ironically, were doing the same thing: foisting their beliefs and culture upon an other group. The elf is saying, "What's wrong with these people? They don't have Santa." I don't think these women are smearing the book. They are warning people to review the book carefully before sharing it. This is not "their sad little hangup." It is a major issue with children's literature, and if it was another culture, I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled the book for fear of violent retribution.
achamm More than 1 year ago
Love this book for our family of mixed-faith!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For reasons unknown to me, several Jewish women have banded together on quite a few websites in order to smear this wonderful little story about an elf who discovers Hanukkah. I'm not sure why they feel their religion (full disclosure: I am also Jewish) is threatened by this book, but that is their sad little hangup. What I can say is that my 6 year old son LOVES this book. Mind you, he goes to Hebrew school, knows that the Torah is his Bible and will eventually be Bar-Mitzvahed -- yet he also thinks Santa is awesome. How does he know about Santa? Because he lives in the real world where EVERYONE knows about Santa. Including Santa (in the most MINOR of roles) in a book about Hanukkah, a minor holiday in Judaism, is as threatening to my religion as having a dragon showing up in a book about Valentine's Day. They are both fictional characters that kids like to read about, and do not detract from the story being told. I suggest these women stop with this awful "Jewisher-than-thou" attitude -- and if they don't want buy the book, then they shouldn't. But don't make it out to be the second coming of The Satanic Bible! As for me, I'm giving these as presents at the holidays. It's finally something both Jews and Gentiles can enjoy together!
JessicaCohen More than 1 year ago
Basically one of Santa's elves discovers Hanukkah and thinks it's so amazing and awesome, he bails on Christmas to hang out and celebrate with Jewish families. He CHOOSES Hanukkah! I love this message.He doesn't bring a tree or stockings or toys - he just really loves the traditions of Hanukkah and wants to be part of it. For my kids, this is a wonderful message of inclusion. We don't live in a bubble -- how nice to know that Santa (who is all around!) acknowledges our kids but doesn't try to push Christmas on them! We're a Jewish family, we go to temple, we go to Sunday school... this book isn't offensive to us in the least. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an adult I can find Christmas/Hanukkah mashups like this amusing. I think this story would make a great SNL sketch, along the lines of Hanukkah Harry. But that's because I have the background knowledge to understand why combining these holidays is silly. The target audience for this book does not have that understanding. I see a reviewer suggesting that because it's a lighthearted children's book that the message doesn't matter. I believe the message matters much more in a children's book, and this book's message is, as Rachel K. stated, "Your holiday is not good enough. Hanukkah needs to be more like Christmas." Children are learning how the world works, and this book tells them that it works by assimilation and emulation of the dominant culture. I also see a reviewer protesting that Santa Claus is not a religious figure. That does not matter, he is still a symbol of Christmas and by association of Christianity. Embracing such symbols is not a Jewish thing to do. To Christian readers who are seeking books to introduce their children to Hanukkah and Judaism, I commend you for that. I'd suggest titles such as The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket as a hilarious and accurate comparison of these two winter holidays, Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael Rosen for a positive portrayal of Jews celebrating their own holiday within the context of the larger culture, and Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko for a story of an interfaith family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a nice book for small children. As a Christian I see it as a nice way to introduce a holiday another religion celebrates at the same time as Christmas. Contrary to the review written, it is important to realize that Santa, while being a part of the Christmas season, is not found in any book of the new Testament. Santa is the embodiment of the spirit of giving; presents are exchanged as a part of Hannukah, and I see nothing wrong with this. The author of the other review needs to lighten up; this book is not a serious discussion of a story from the Maccabees (which, unfortunately, many Christian Bibles does not include).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my 19 years as a librarian, reading and reviewing children's books, Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf might be the most insensitive, inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive picture book I've ever seen. Here are my specific objections to this book: 1. The Jewish family is depicted as enjoying a lovely Hanukkah celebration - everyone is happy, there are plenty of presents, latkes, dreidels and gelt, and the menorah is burning brightly. But, Shmelf and Santa still feel that their celebration somehow isn’t meaningful and special enough on its own and is in need of a dose of Christmas magic. I find this patronizing and insulting. 2. The philosophy that Jews can believe in Santa and Christmas magic and that Santa believes in them too is not an idea that is promoted in mainstream Judaism and is not a philosophy that a mainstream, secular publisher should be validating or promoting. You will be hard-pressed to find a rabbi or Jewish educator who encourages Jewish families to adapt and add Christian traditions and practices (like leaving out a latke and pickle for one of Santa’s elves) to their Jewish holiday celebrations. 3. The history of Hanukkah is anti-assimilationist: the Maccabees fought to maintain their Jewish identity rather than be absorbed into the mainstream Hellenistic culture. Thus, the meaning of Hanukkah is in direct opposition to the meaning of Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf, which glorifies the adoption of customs from the dominant culture by those in the minority. 4. Christmas is a major holiday with significant religious meaning, while Hanukkah is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. They are in no way equivalent, and modern similarities are mostly a result of the commercialization of the entire season. This book incorrectly depicts Hanukkah as "the Jewish Christmas." 5. The fact that only Jewish children are singled out in the story is problematic. There are many other religious groups in America and around the world who do not celebrate Christmas. Is Bloomsbury planning to turn this into a series where Santa appoints a special elf to spread Christmas magic to Muslim, Hindu, and Jehovah’s Witness children? If this sounds absurd, then why is it okay to invent a Hanukkah elf? Additionally, the listing of Jewish names always carries an uncomfortable resonance (think Schindler's List). While young readers may not notice this, I find it to be an insensitive and tone-deaf literary device. As with the controversies that surrounded books like A Birthday Cake for George Washington and When We Was Fierce, where well-intentioned authors unintentionally created works with disrespectful messages for minority readers, I feel that Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf tells Jewish readers "Your holiday is not good enough. Hanukkah needs to be more like Christmas." This is a message that neither Jewish nor Christian readers need to hear, much less readers of any other religion.