This book got me to wondering: why are so many people compelled to give Santa Claus an origin story anyway?
It could be because so many aspects of the mythology are a little strange. The flying Reindeer. The magical little Elves. The chimneys. The flying sleigh. The factory at the North Pole. For some people, it seems, anything unusual in folklore demands an explanation other than, I don’t know, people using their imaginations. (Never mind that now. Trust me, I could go off.)
So according to this particular Santa Claus origin story, Santa was adopted by a human couple as a baby. His father, Ansem, was led to his hiding place in the land of Spells and Fairies by a shining white Generic Deer (I will explain in a minute). At the age of fifteen, another Generic Deer kicked the young Santa off a cliff where he landed in a field of poppies. There, he met The Great Prophet Zarquon, who sang a song to him and sent him to Fairyland where he met his Fairy friends and they all went to a sweet, sweet rainbow waterfall where…
It’s probably enough to say that Santa Claus’ backstory is *ridiculously* trippy.
Now, about those Generic Deer. I hate to pick on a fellow illustrator, but sometimes the Reindeer look like Reindeer, most of the time they look like White-Tailed Deer, and the rest of the time, they manage to look like both. Drinking Game!
The Best Parts:
Page 16 – “Santa’s my boyfriend!”
Page 19 – OMG, Santa’s father is Ansem?
Page 21 – I don’t know if you want anything to do with whatever Magical Adventure (we’ve sure had a lot of those lately) would happen down there, Santa-as-a-lad.
Page 24 – Deer are d*cks. 😦
Page 27 – Uh, Poppies?
There’s a whole poppy motif that carries throughout the book and… I can’t let it pass without comment.
Page 29 – If you have fallen off of a cliff and landed in a field of poppies, and the Great Prophet Zarquon is the person you wake up to, worry.
Page 30 – DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE………… O.o
Page 33 – “Gee-goshums, I was found under a Giving Tree in the Land of Spells and Fairies that a Magical Generic Deer led you to? Cool!”
Page 42 – Hey, it’s Wonko the Sane! 😄
Page 45 – Huh… <:/
I understand the Moral that Wonko is trying to give Santa-as-a-lad here (he wants Santa-as-a-lad to give that little sick kid his beloved, very old music box that he hand-carved himself because “what good is owning something if you can’t give it to someone else to appreciate?”) Fair enough, I suppose but the fact that it is coming out of a crazy old man who gave away his house and his eyes makes it sound a little warped to me.
Page 49 – How in the heck do you get honey directly out of a lilac flower?
Page 53 – Rejoice in the Awesome that is ANNUAL GIFT-GIVING RAINBOW BIRD!!!
Page 56 – “There is no spoon…”
Page 60 – And the in-studio audience goes “WOOOOOOOOO!!!”
Page 62 – Man, people in… where is this taking place? Anyway, people in the place that Santa is from know how to party.
Page 65 – What in the – That, sir, is no Gryphon! I don’t know what it is but it isn’t that.
Page 66 – If you rescue a Whatever-That-Was with the help of your animal friends, and it transforms into a dancing little Elf, worry.
Page 70 – “Look, the hideous little man is starting to tell a story!”
Page 73 – Hoarfrost would be a more interesting villain if crows and turnips were scary. At all. And if he didn’t fall for the old Seal The Evil In A Can trick.
Page 76 – Oh no, you were transformed into a highly symbolic combination of two awesome animals? How horrid!
Page 81 – There are Elves for everything. Up to and including making you trip balls.
Page 86 – Wasn’t he a White-Tail last time we saw him?
Page 92 – Honestly, I’d like to know more about the dude who can smell the moon.
Page 94 – Jackalopes?
Page 100 – “Look, the hideous little men are starting to sing!”
Page 102 – So the Moral is that it sucked to be Rupert?
Page 107 – How many times do we get to read about Santa tripping balls?
Page 110 – Thus, Santa helpfully releases the Sealed Evil in a Can.
Page 113 – Hoarfrost’s wrath is appropriately trippy. And now we know where misfit toys came from!
Page 118 – This is where you’ll want to cue up “Dual of the Fates”.
Page 119 – Somebody liked “The Mouse and his Child”
Page 122 – Santa kills ’em with kindness, naturally.
Page 127 – DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE……… O.o
Page 128 – Oh, bother the origin stories! All of the sequel teases on this last page sound much more interesting!
Classic Quotes and Excerpts:
“Deep in seeds of giving lie / Fruit and flower of living. / The fortunate need not ask why / It is all a matter of knowing.” – The Great Prophet Zarquon’s Prophesy on Page 29
Things I Learned from this Book:
* – You are still a boy at fifteen. Hey, by that reckoning, I am still a teenager!
* – Characters who live in some isolation out in the magical Forests tend to make up dumb little songs.
* – Next time you’re bored, instead of seeking out barely-remembered movies or books from your childhood on the Internet, and relieving yourself of some crazy memories, look for pictures in pieces of wood.
* – Donner and Blitzen were the original Reindeer.
* – Poppies, man. O.o
* – Rainbow Birds are AWESOME! RAINBOW BIIIIIIIRD!!!
* – Surprisingly, most of Santa’s iconic traits predate his red suit and flying sleigh.
* – Santa will only use a chimney as a last resort.
* – The Christmas Tree originated in… … … Mexico. The three or four people who wrote this book do not care about Ancient German People. 😦
Things That Can Save Any Book:
Cool Creatures? Creepy old Oracles! Crazy old men! Whatever the hell that Snow-Gryphon is!
Creative Ideas? I can’t say they aren’t unique. I like the solution to the chimney issue.
Memorable Character? Funny the most memorable character is Wonko the Sane, who shows up for all of three pages.
Memorable Setting? Uh, not really.
Nifty Illustrations? Um… these paintings just look sloppy. (I act like I could do better. <:/ )
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when the deer change species. Shout “SUBMIT!!!” and take a shot when Santa’s adoptive father is called out by name. Whenever the Fairies sing a song at Santa that contains a Moral, chug your way through it.
Jordan in the Land of Spells and Fairies. And poppies. Lots of them.
Santa: My Life and Times, An Illustrated Autobiography copyright 1998 to Berkshire Studio Productions, Inc. Written by Jared F. Green, illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz (the book is not indicative of what he can do), and (ahem) “Created and Produced by” Martin I. Green. Published by Avon Books, New York City, NY.
ISBN #: 0-380-97559-9