- Little Santa by Jon Agee
In this Santa Claus origin story, the youngest of the Claus children, little redsnowsuited Santa, likes his family’s life at the North Pole, so he’s dismayed when they decide to pack up and relocate to Florida. When a huge snowstorm prevents the family from leaving the house, Santa comes to their aid by shimmying up the chimney and going for help. Along the way he meets a flying reindeer and some helpful, industrious elves who make a sleigh (to be attached to the reindeer) to carry Santa, the elves, and some shovels back home to dig the Clauses out. When the Clauses eventually carry through with their moving plans, Santa stays behind: “And you know the rest of the story.” There’s an amusing edge to the narrative voice and to the characters’ dialogue (“Holy snowflake!” exclaims an elf when Santa slides down the elves’ chimney) that makes this clever, slightly absurd story great fun to read aloud. Agee’s heavily outlined, uncomplicated figures and smooth wintry backdrops complement the crisp simplicity of the text, and the muted tones of the art provide a fine foil for small Santa in his bright red snowsuit with its peaked hood. Santa-loving kids will enjoy picking out the connections between Santa’s [End Page 200] “backstory” and the traditions now associated with the big guy in red, and many will also appreciate the ways in which Santa’s characteristics as a family misfit actually make him well suited to his future occupation.