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Author: Bruce Hale

Illustrator: Dave Garbot

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Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Santa is just about ready to start his Christmas Eve ride when he discovers there's a toy missing. Who would take a toy from the sleigh? Santa needs to find out! This is a seek-and-find book where readers collect clues to find the culprit.

Type of Reading: playtime reading, interactive reading

Recommended Age: read together: 8 and Up; read yourself: 8 and Up

Interest Level: 8 and Up

Age of Child: Read with an 11-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: It sounded fun and she looked at all the activities on each spread, but by the third clue she didn't care who did it.

Adult Reader Reaction: This was not what I expected. I thought this was more of an "I Spy" type book where you searched for multiple items on a page. Instead, you are tasked to find Santa and the clue he's discovered. The pages were so overwhelming visually that I wasn't interested in coming back to see what else was going on.

Pros: Lots of cute penguins, polar bears, and elves make it fun to solve the mystery.

Cons: Once you've solved the mystery, this book is done. There is a page of items in the back, but by the time you discover them, you've had enough. Because the illustrations are VERY busy / crowded, this is not a book for children easily overwhelmed with visual stimulation.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Although there are secondary search items in the back, once you've solved the mystery you don't want to read this again.

If You Liked This Book, Try: 1001 THINGS TO SPOT IN FAIRYLAND (Usborne)   THE GREAT CITY SEARCH (Usborne)   SWORD QUEST (Usborne Fantazy Puzzle Books)

Educational Themes: With lots of activity on each page, there is plenty to explore or send a partner reader on a "hunt" to find other items. That would make this good practice for searching and researching.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, mystery, Christmas, interactive learning

Date(s) Reviewed: November 2012

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reviews and reader feedback at


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