"All the North Pole is in a tizzy! Someone stole Santa's toys, and it's almost Christmas Eve! Mr. Claus is in hot pursuit -- can you figure out who did it?"
Six suspects are shown on the first page. After that, readers look for Santa in each of several subsequent page spreads. Santa is always holding (or adjacent to) a clue. Together, the clues point back to one of the six suspects.
It's not much of a mystery, in the traditional sense. The clues don't lead to other clues - they are more just tidbits that happen to match up to one of the suspects portrayed on the first page. Each page spread focuses on a different aspect of the pre-Christmas rush at the North Pole: the workshop, "Ye Olde Elf Inn", the stables, etc. And on each page, Santa uncovers a clue.
As an adult reader, I didn't find it too difficult to pinpoint Santa on any of the pages (though I can imagine very young children having to work at it). The fun, of course, lies in absorbing the many details of the scenes. In the stables, four reindeer and an elf are sitting around in a big bathtub/hot tub. One ladder flight up, another reindeer is getting a mud facial in the Salon. The mall features stores like "Hoof Locker" and "Bear Essentials". And much, much more. I can imagine four and five year olds poring over this book, giggling.
Santa on the Loose! isn't going to work for storytime. But if you are looking for a holiday-themed activity book, something to keep the kids busy while you wrap presents or mix up the cookie dough, this seek and solve mystery should do the trick. We'll keep our copy on hand until the 2 1/2 year old is a bit older, and more able to appreciate it.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).