The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (1902)
Tuesday’s Holiday Tale, December 22, 2015
I’m ringing the holiday bells early this year. Snuggle up. Grab the popcorn, mug of hot spiced cider, and imagine the snow sprinkling down soft and slow. Outside your window, the green hills shine white. All is silent for this night …
Of all the Christmas classics you’ve read over the years, as a child or a teen, or to your children, L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is probably one you could not forget. Some of us missed reading this story in our childhood. If, like me, you missed this magical adventure, today you can travel into the exciting world of a boy named Claus.
We are in the enchanted Forest of Burzee, a mighty forest with queer gnarled trees, mosses, and sunlit meadows. There is a Master Woodsman of the World here, named Ak. Ak is all wise, sees everything, and lives in a castle in Burzee with his queen.
[Ak, Master of the World in the Forest of Burzee.]
The inhabitants of the forest are all immortals: fairies, Knooks, Ryls, and Nymphs. One very special wood nymph is Necile. One day she finds a mortal baby starving and abandoned in the woods. Nearby is a lioness, intent on devouring the infant … until Ak commands the lioness Shiegra to give her milk to the infant.
Necile cannot resist the beautiful babe and takes him to the castle and raises him as her son. She names him Claus. The boy grows up and then moves to the Laughing Valley to live among the sweet-natured Knooks—creatures who speak no words.
But then the wicked creatures, the Awgwas, descend.
There’s a war. Claus is attacked. Who will save this young man from the evil forest creatures? Will he die? He’s mortal so surely he will. Ak to the rescue! Saved from evil powers, Claus becomes known as generous and kind man in the Laughing Valley, living alone with his cat Blinkie and whittling toys for the children he finds in the woods and valleys.
[Claus carrying a lost child back to the mother.]
Do you know the first toy that Claus ever made? Do you know how and why he made the first dolly? Who did he fashion it after? We all know the rest of this Christmas Eve story, Claus flying over rooftops and slipping down chimneys to bestow toys upon beloved children. But Claus’ trusty reindeer were not Dasher and Dancer. Come meet Flossie and Glossie, Racer and Pacer, Reckless and Speckless, Fearless and Peerless, and Ready and Steady.
What is the destiny of such a good mortal man with a heart as big as the world? Old age and death? What can save him now so Claus can continue to work his magic for children?
[Grim Reaper at Claus’ bedside]
Honor your imagination this holiday season and experience the power. Come back to your own childhood story time. Feel the joy and light! And the love in this dreamy Christmas adventure.
The illustrated edition featured here is out of print (although you can buy it on AbeBooks.com), published by Henry Holt and Company in 2003. The illustrations are by the renowned Michael Hague (The Wizard of Oz and The Velveteen Rabbit.) All images here are photographed from the book for commentary and review purposes only.
You can read the story, free online at PageByPageBooks.com.
Listen to the audio by Librivox.org.
Or, you can likely find this illustrated edition in your library, as I did. Try WorldCat.org to locate a library near you. ISBN 0805038221 The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, Illustrated by Michael Hague. 2003.
For more Christmas short stories (ghostly ones!) this blog has several you might also enjoy.
Click the title for a free read.
The Water Ghost by John Kendricks Bangs
The Festival by Lovecraft for Christmas
The Ghost of Dr. Harris by Nathaniel Hawthorne for Christmas Eve
The Legend of the Fir Tree, A Christmas story
Markeim by Robert Louis Stevenson, a Devil of a Christmas Murder
Wishing you all happy holidays
and happy reading!