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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Elf Pets: Santa's St. Bernards Save Christmas is a short movie from the creators of The Elf on the Shelf that features scenes of the North Pole with hundreds of the recognizable elves hard at work and darling St. Bernard puppies awaiting Santa's orders as well. Marketing tie-ins to both types of plush replicas and respective picture books aside, this delightful tale is rich in heartwarming messages about generosity and compassion that complement the holiday season perfectly. A few moments really tug at the emotions as people in need are turned away from a community store whose donations have run dry, but it's the selfless act of four kindhearted children that turns the tide toward good and will stick with viewers in the end.
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What's the story?
In ELF PETS: SANTA'S ST. BERNARDS SAVE CHRISTMAS, Christmas is fast approaching, but the North Pole has a problem. The world's Christmas spirit -- which powers the magic of Santa Claus (voiced by Brad Hyland) and his elves -- is lacking. In an effort to revive it, Santa calls on an old friend and his army of St. Bernard pups to work some magic of their own in homes across the world. One such pup finds himself in the home of a special family struggling to find Christmas cheer in their hometown, and he helps them inspire their neighbors to rediscover the true meaning of the holiday.
Is it any good?
This sweet story is full of all the right feels for the holiday season. It opens with the magic of Santa's headquarters and legions of busy elves, then cuts to the home and business of a well-meaning family doing selfless work on behalf of others. Unfortunately, their ability to do so relies heavily on the kindness of others, and that's in short supply at present. Their predicament represents the broader shortage of Christmas spirit that worries Santa and the elves.
What stands out in Elf Pets: Santa's St. Bernards Save Christmas is who inspires the change that brings the townspeople's priorities -- and the North Pole's magic -- back into balance. It's not an adult, but four children who give of themselves and inadvertently inspire others to do the same. It's a seemingly small factor in the overall scheme of things, but its message of kindness won't be lost on young viewers who watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about examples of kindness and compassion that stand out in Elf Pets: Santa's St. Bernards Save Christmas. What accounts for people's somewhat selfish actions in the beginning of the story? How does the hustle and bustle of the holiday season make thinking of others a challenge? As they change their ways, how do their spirits change as well?
How does it feel to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return? How does showing kindness inspire more of the same? When have you been the beneficiary of someone's generosity? Why is compassion an important character strength?
What holiday traditions does your family enjoy together? Are there Christmas movies you watch together, or certain music you enjoy? What is your favorite holiday memory?
- Premiere date: December 3, 2018
- Cast: Brad Hyland, Dean Balkwill, Kendyl Bell
- Network: Cartoon Network
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Holidays
- Character strengths: Compassion
- TV rating: TV-G
- Available on: DVD
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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