Cover image for Shmelf the Hanukkah elf / by Greg Wolfe ; illustrated by Howard McWilliam.
Shmelf the Hanukkah elf / by Greg Wolfe ; illustrated by Howard McWilliam.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2016.

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : colour illustrations ; 26 cm
"When Shmelf, one of Santa's elves, learns that Jewish children do not celebrate Christmas, he investigates and learns all about Hanukkah, then gets a special new task from Santa"--Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
WOL Book Easy Collection

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In disbelief upon learning that Jewish children don't receive presents on Christmas, Shmelf, one of Santa's elves, observes a family's "awesome" Hanukkah celebration. Then Santa appoints Shmelf as a Hanukkah representative, complete with "Jewish reindeer" and sleigh. Accompanied by festive-enough illustrations, the rhyming text aims for cheer but, by putting Hanukkah under Santa's purview, misleads readers of all faiths. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.