The Elf on the Shelf: Night Before Christmas

HarperCollins. (Elf on the Shelf). Sept. 2023. 24p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780063327375.
PreS-Gr 1–This rhyming book adapts the classic “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” poem from 1823. The rewrite has a Scout Elf, rather than a sleepy father, awaiting Santa Claus; however, the sleepy quiet is disrupted when one of the children sneaks down with his Elf Pet to retrieve the family cat. Chaos ensues, with the cat tugging Christmas lights off the tree, the dog and the cat running amok, and the Scout Elf trying to prevent ornaments and the tree from being demolished. Luckily, Santa arrives and helps clean up the mess before loading up the stockings and departing with the Scout Elf. The structure of the new rhyming story follows the original fairly closely and even contains some identical language—Santa’s belly still shakes like a “bowl full of jelly”—but Santa no longer smokes a pipe and the Scout Elf has taken center stage. The vividly colored illustrations capture the sparkle of the holidays, and children will enjoy finding the Scout Elf looking increasingly messy and distressed. For those who love the cadence of the classic poem, the changes will seem jarring and are less lyrical.
VERDICT Will be enjoyed by children and families who cherish the Elf on the Shelf tradition.

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