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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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season.

THE HOUSE OF LOVE

In a big, old house on a snowy hill, the Amore family of nine celebrates Valentine's Day.

Mia Valentina, the youngest family member, and Mama clean the house and decorate for the Amores’ favorite holiday. Then Mia’s mother helps her make thoughtful but funny valentines for her 6 siblings. When Papa and the rest of the clan return home from a basketball game, Mia’s siblings get a kick out of their valentines, and Papa presents Mama with chocolate cherry cordials, but no one gives Mia a gift. While the family has dinner and plays games, Mia’s sadness seemingly goes unnoticed. It’s not until bedtime that she makes a discovery that chases away her gloom. The pages of this book are text-heavy, making it a good springboard for young readers making the transition to chapter books. The light pink pages, cheerful illustrations, and homespun authenticity of the text will appeal to children. The cozy Appalachian mountain setting shines through. Crafty types will glean inspiration to create a gumdrop tree, custom valentines, or themed cupcakes. Mentions of an antique washing machine and patched-up windows establish the Amores as a working-class family. The old house and large family could be read as standard storybook fare or, by more critical readers, as a romanticized image of rural life, and the didactic ending feels old-fashioned. The Amores are White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season. (Illustrated text. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20331-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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