Those in search of seasonal stories that contain a blend of Christmas and Hanukkah will find an entertaining tale here.

SHMELF THE HANUKKAH ELF

What! Some good children will not receive Christmas presents?

Santa’s elves are busy preparing for Christmas and checking The List for the names of those children deserving of presents. The newest elf, named Shmelf, is aghast to learn that there are many young ones who “would not receive presents, / Though it seemed that they should!” He consults with the head elf, who informs him that these children are “actually Jewish” and that they “celebrate Hanukkah, / Their own jubilee.” Shmelf visits a family, observes their joyous festivities, and is thrilled to see all the gifts. Santa then dresses him in blue and white, gives him a sleigh, a Jewish reindeer named Asher, and sends him out on Hanukkah to enhance the festival celebrations; the text suggests that Jewish readers leave him “some gelt and a nice kosher dill.” Wolfe tells his tale in rhyming couplets and includes a very brief history of the origins of Hanukkah. McWilliam’s digital illustrations are bright and busy, showing both white and black elves and a Jewish family with a white father and a dark-skinned mother; Santa is white.

Those in search of seasonal stories that contain a blend of Christmas and Hanukkah will find an entertaining tale here. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-521-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween.

PUMPKIN MAGIC

Magical moonbeams awaken a pumpkin patch to raucous Halloween-season revelry.

A moonbeam illuminates and energizes a smiley-faced pumpkin sitting alone on a stair; it promptly takes off to find a friend with whom to have a good time. An entire pumpkin patch, also sparked by the magical moon, instantly comes alive. And what merriment all the grinning gourds get up to! Their playful shenanigans include piling high on top of one another, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing, marching, and drumming, wearing costumes, and competing in games. They even engage in activities usually reserved for other holiday-themed icons—flying on brooms and making magic, for instance. As dawn approaches, the pumpkin leader escorts the cavalcade back home. At sunrise, each one takes up residence on a different house’s front porch and awaits that evening’s moonbeams to work their magic again. Liveliness and good cheer abound in this frisky rhyming tale in which the perennial holiday symbols naturally take center stage. Perky couplets that read and scan very well appear on most pages and are accompanied by energetic, expressive illustrations that highlight vivid oranges, yellows, blues, purples, and greens with touches of other bright shades.

Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-56332-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

PUMPKIN DAY!

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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