Book 48. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by L. Frank Baum. Unabridged audio.
This is a wonderful imagining of the life of Santa Claus, telling the secret story of how he came to be the loving gift-giver we know him to be.
Published just a few years after the first Oz book, this book is written in Baum’s trademark style. Recasting the story with elements from fairy tales adds an eerie, odd sense to the story. There are forests, woodsmen, and evil beings who can turn invisible, just to name a few of these aspects.
In this telling, Santa is found as a baby by the immortal Master Woodsman of the World. As he grows, he becomes concerned about the poor state of many children, and begins to aid them by carving pieces of wood into things that he calls “toys.” With the help of other immortals, he delivers these toys to an ever-expanding group of children, eventually becoming an immortal himself.
All of the elements that are needed in a story about Santa are here. The traditional roles of chimneys, stockings, reindeer, helper elves and the impossible bag are all worked into the story. The presence of toy stores in the modern world is also explained.
This was a thoroughly delightful story.
Source: The Classic Tales Podcast. As always, BJ Harrison does a wonderful job narrating this story.