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

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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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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