L. Frank Baum: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (Macmillan Collector’s Library 2017, first published in 1902)
L. Frank Baum was born in 1856 in Syracuse, USA. He had both German and English ancestry, and their family had a long tradition of celebrating Christmas, including decorating the tree and wearing Santa Claus costumes. The writer worked in the oil industry, running a theater and a household store, but inventing and telling stories has always played an important role in his life. In 1900, he published his most famous work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which led children’s bestseller list for two years, and its musical adaptation conquered the Broadway. Two years after his first great success, he wrote a book about the story of Santa Claus.
Although there is no historical evidence for his existence, it is believed that St. Nicholas was born in A.D. 280 in the town of Myra in the Roman Empire (now southwest Turkey) and was the leader of the local Christian community. His best-known act was to save three girls – with his monetary donations (which he placed in small packages) – who could not marry without a dowry. Over the centuries, the name of St. Nicholas has been associated with gifts and festivities. Immigrants took the custom to America and developed their own Christmas traditions.
Frank Baum’s story provides new explanations for many of the details that appear in Santa’s legend, such as the origin of his name and his immortality. An important moral lesson from the tale is that every child deserves the gift and the happiness of the holiday, whether are poor or rich.
Frank Baum continued to write after his success with his books and moved to Hollywood with his family in 1910 to make films, but there was no demand for children’s movies at the time. In 1939, 20 years after his death, the epic film adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was completed, which was not only a milestone in movie history but also gave the writer the well-deserved immortality.
A cartoon adaptation of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was released under the same title – I recommend it to the whole family for the holiday season!