Thursday, December 13, 2018

Schmuck the Buck by Exo Books, ill. by Karina Short

Here is Alison Krauss singing Wessex Carol accompanied by YoYo Ma on the Cello.

Schmuck the Buck: Santa's Jewish Reindeer

Schmuck the Buck: Santa's Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Schmuck the Buck: Santa's Jewish ReindeerSchmuck the Buck: Santa's Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I was offered this book for my honest review. Further disclosure, I bought the Kindle version because aspiring authors are trying to make at least a little money with their writing.

Luckily, Exo Books gave me a download which allowed me to read the book and enjoy the illustrations, which are in color in the hard copy.

Here's my review: I personally, as a Christian who cherishes her traditional Christmas, which does not include Santa Claus, and avoids the secular, commercial Christmas as much as possible, this book was not exactly my cup of tea.

However, it does not follow that it would not be anyone else's cup of tea, therefore I'm going to give as objective and neutral a review as possible. I assume people read reviews to see if a book is something they'd want to buy so hopefully I will lay the facts out there so you all can make an informed decision.

First of all, the book was well-made. The illustrations are as good as anything you will see in a young adult's reading list. They are highly expressive and amusing. The story is in written in poem form with funny rhymes.

And I should say, that this book's age range would be Middle School to young adult. The humor is definitely Junior High, a bit off-color at times to the point of raunchy (Schmuck is Santa's "pimp daddy"?) and the theme is about a young reindeer, Larry, in a Middle School setting (even if it is with other reindeer at the North Pole).

Larry, or Schmuck, as you may have guessed is Jewish and, while faithfully, celebrating Hanukkah with his family, he also works for Santa. Unfortunately, he is a small, nerdy reindeer and the object of taunts and bullying. He is Rudolph with a slightly different twist.

But Rudolph was able to redeem himself and so is Schmuck, (hence becoming Santa's pimp daddy).

There are positives and negatives. The negatives is that it reduces Christmas to some tinny, hyper-commercialized past time adults engage in to appease their selfish materialistic children.

The positive would be that an overarching message is that Jewish people do not need to treat Christmas like kryptonite. They can, in fact, enjoy Christmas like everyone else, because for most everyone else it is merely a secular holiday and not the celebration of the birth of Christ.

The biggest positive is that is shows someone using their talent and their mind, regardless of other people's immaturity and narrow-mindedness. Larry doesn't let other people determine his identity. That is a good message, especially for students going through the purgatory of middle school.
For me it's a precious, Holy day, but everyone has the right to celebrate Christmas as they see fit.

I hope this review allows everyone to decide whether the story would be their kind of stocking stuffer.

And Merry Christmas to everyone!

View all my reviews


  1. Hmmm.
    US slang a stupid or contemptible person; oaf
    Word Origin for schmuck

    from Yiddish schmuck penis, from German Schmuck decoration, from Middle High German smucken to press into

  2. Wow. The book is a little raunchier than I thought.

  3. i was trying to think of a polite way of mentioning it... and i am rather astounded that such a book would be written for children... but i abandoned any sort of cultural awareness about twenty years ago... so far as i'm concerned, real life ended about that time, so now i live in my own fantasy world... it's quite nice here...

    1. Hi Mudpuddle. I had agreed to review it and I did not want to go back on my word, but I think I am through reviewing books for people. Either that or I need to develop a backbone and say no when a book is not something I would personally recommend.

    2. Yes, that's a whole other subject, because I have a hard time exercising mine if I think it disappoint someone else.

  4. Ha! I'd give that one a miss. However, we've been listening to that version of the Wexford Carol & it's lovely. I'm also very partial to anything using the cello. Last night I took my 13 yr old to her first live Handel's Messiah performance. An organ (which I don't normally like, but this was an exception) two trumpets, timpani, 4 soloists & a choir. Just lovely.

    1. Isn't Handel's Messiah inspiring? I listen to it everyday during the whole month of December. Then I listen to the Easter section during Lent.

      That's funny you don't like the organ. I love the organ; probably it's the way you've heard it played. If you do not have a good organist, it can become an instrument of torture.

  5. This is such an interesting post Sharon. I also liks the message of inclusivity and Christmas. As a non believer, I love the message and spirit of Christmas particularly the message of peace, charity and empathy. I also think that the commercialization of The Holiday is terribly unfortunate. However, I also like the celebrations, stories and involving Santa Clause, etc. Thus I do like stories such as this especially if they include a message.

    1. Hi Brian. I felt that in their own off-colored way, they were trying to make a valid point and perhaps reach people who feel isolated or cast out.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.