Santa must solve the mysterious disappearance of toys from his workshop through this search-and-find quest with detailed pages full of elves at work and play.
The crime? A theft of Christmas toys. The suspects? An elf, a reindeer, a snowman, a polar bear, a penguin and a young girl. The detective? The reader, who must find one clue on each of 11 double-page spreads that are crammed full of elves, toys, packages and animals or items specific to each locale. The cartoon-style illustrations are frantically busy, showing a cast of elves in varied locations at the North Pole and on outings together to places such as a mall and a hockey rink. Santa is in each spread holding the clue, but the elves wear red suits quite similar to Santa’s, leading to dozens of nearly identical characters on each page. Illustrations of the suspects are provided, so young detectives must compile a list of the 11 clues and then deduce which suspect is wearing or holding all 11 of those items. The mystery? Slight. The interest level? A quick read for sharp detectives; a frustrating one for those less experienced in clues, mysteries and deductive reasoning.
The verdict? Titles in the I Spy genre with multiple searches on each spread have more to offer. Case closed. (Picture book. 5-8)