From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5–Santa tours the world every year, but Mrs. Claus never goes anywhere. Fed up, she hitches a reindeer to the sleigh, promises to be back by Christmas Eve, and heads off on her own world tour. Santa is filled with anxiety (Mrs. Claus isn't used to warm weather. She'll get sunburned!). Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus and a reindeer are having a splendid time. But she begins to miss her husband, and when she starts seeing signs of Christmas everywhere, decides to head home. After a lovely reunion, it's time for Santa to start out on his yearly rounds, and this time he invites her to come along for the ride. From the postcard-inspired cover to the sweetly romantic finale, Alsenas's acrylic illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the tender tale. Mrs. Claus is plump and jolly, and her adventures exuberantly fill entire spreads. Santa, whose pictures are framed with holiday symbols, is a little smaller and sadder. All of the characters have wonderfully expressive faces, and there are plenty of fun details. A great addition to any seasonal storytime.–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
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Tired of "snow, snow, and more snow!" a cranky Mrs. Claus packs her bags and her passport to see a bit more of the world in this playful peek at the North Pole's First Couple. Santa's hangdog expression contrasts with his wife's snazzy smile as newcomer Alsenas depicts their separate pursuits (e.g., first-time gingerbread baking for him, reading romance novels on the beach for her) in a series of humorous, well-chosen scenes, if unevenly executed. Christmas Eve finds the dynamic duo reunited, with Santa planning for that annual globe-trotting sleigh ride-for two. Ages 3-5.(Oct.)
Tired of being stuck at home all the time, Mrs. Claus sets off in the sleigh on a solo trip around the world. She enjoys the change of scene and has "no trouble making friends," but by the time she visits the Taj Mahal, Mrs. Claus misses Santa. Her homesickness worsens as she starts seeing signs of Christmas everywhere, and she knows it's time to head back. Meanwhile, Santa keeps himself busy, baking his first batch of cookies and decorating the house for the holidays, but he's very happy to see his wife again. Alsenas's wry, folksy illustrations alternate between cozily framed images of the domesticated Santa and full-bleed, double-page spreads of Mrs. Claus following her bliss (on the beach and at a sushi bar, for example). The story's home-is-where-the-heart-is sentiment will resonate with frequent fliers and armchair travelers alike. K.F.
In his debut, Alsenas offers a modern Mrs. Claus and an expressive Santa with a range of
emotions that extends beyond jolly. As the story opens, Mrs. Claus is pale and overworked for good reasonshe's never taken a vacation in her life,” poor woman! When she decides that it's now her turn to enjoy some world travels, she leaves Santa at home with the cat and takes off with the sleigh and a single reindeer. Subsequent spreads alternate between her travel adventures (sunbathing at a beach resort, folk dancing in Scandinavia, eating sushi in Japan) and Santa's lonely preparations for Christmas back home at the North Pole. (The elves are apparently too busy in the toy factory to help.)
Just before the holiday, Mrs. Claus flies home to a warm welcome from her newly appreciative husband, who invites her to accompany him on his Christmas Eve journey. This quietly told story offers some insights into the value of traveling to new places, how it feels to be the one left behind and the meaning of shared experiences.