Li’l Santa is the story of Santa’s journey from the frozen north to the Big City, on a mission to collect garbage. Y’see, kids, Santa has magical machine, that converts garbage into toys. I know, supposedly elves make the toys, but what do you suppose they make them with? Labor-saving devices, and the garbage machine is the most labor-savingest of them all.
Like Lewis Trondheim’s previous book, Mister i, Li’l Santa is told entirely through pictures, but that hardly means the writing takes a back seat to the illustrations. It’s a rare case when a tale simply told is clearly and succinctly written without a lot of unnecessary words. The situations have the hysterical quality often found in a Buster Keaton film.
The art is full of whimsy, and all the unique playful creatures you would expect a Santa to have are there, both friends and enemies. Sure, it’s easy to expect there to be the elves, and the occasional forest creature, but did you imagine the snow mailmen, and their amazing abilities? Or the stubborness of the reindeer? While perhaps not the Santa we might all imagine (he’s rather short, after all; hence the name, Li’l Santa), this interpretation embodies his childlike faith and generosity that is universal.