Send this Santa back to the North Pole, and let Mrs. Claus run away on her own vacation.

READ REVIEW

THE RUNAWAY SANTA

A CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE STORY

Santa Claus wants to explore the world, so he sets off on a series of adventurous trips, with a lot of assistance from Mrs. Claus.

When Santa announces his solo trip, Mrs. Claus sweetly suggests a key item for each of his adventures, explaining why he will need that equipment and ending with the repeated phrase, “for you are my jolly Santa,” echoing Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. In each far-flung location, Santa uses the item his wife suggested, climbing Mount Rushmore, skiing in the Swiss Alps, and touring China, Italy, South Africa, Australia, and the Amazon rain forest. In each location, Mrs. Claus can be spotted in the background, hiding. Is she watching over Santa? Wistfully wishing she could participate in these adventures as an equal partner in the marriage? Finally, Santa thinks to ask Mrs. Claus if she might want to join him on a trip, an invitation she accepts with a smile. The wife who stays at home enabling her husband’s adventures out in the world is a stereotype that is well past its expiration date, as is the stereotype of the clueless man who is rescued by the smart, unacknowledged woman. Rudimentary cartoon-style illustrations show a jolly, physically active Santa and a petite, quiet Mrs. Claus holding out Santa’s equipment, valetlike, for his convenience.

Send this Santa back to the North Pole, and let Mrs. Claus run away on her own vacation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63450-589-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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