The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

4.3 22
by L. Frank Baum, Mary Clark

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Delightfully original modern classic. 167 illus.
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Delightfully original modern classic. 167 illus.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hague's admirers and Oz aficionados may also be interested in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum. First published in 1902, the book follows Santa Claus from the time he's a baby through his years of toy-making and on to his role as deliverer of Christmas gifts; Hague contributes red-ink drawings as well as watercolors. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3–In this significantly shortened version of Baum’s 1902 tale, readers learn that Santa Claus, abandoned as a baby, was adopted and raised by a wood-nymph in the magical forest of Burzee. After he grows up and learns about the human world he came from, he decides to devote his life to helping children, and the rest is history. Baum’s original language, florid and wordy, has been pared down into a more readable and modern narrative. The large format, brimming with plenty of lush full- and double-page paintings depicting fairies, sprites, Knooks, and a very comely young Claus, will appeal to many children. The Land of Faerie plotline is a tad odd, but all the elements of Santa Claus’s story (the reindeer, the chimney-clambering) are reassuringly present.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
From the Publisher
“For lit nerds and loved ones who are notoriously hard to shop for, you can’t go wrong with these festively bound classics. . . . Their size makes them perfectly stocking-stuffable.” —Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”
“Leave it to the folks at Penguin—who gave us Gothed-out editions of horror classics for Halloween—to package these . . . slim Yuletide-themed volumes.” —Newsday, “Best Books to Give as Holiday Gifts”
“Remember how Christmas was celebrated before Black Friday with these 19th-century authors, in small uniform volumes wrapped in pretty jackets.” —USA Today, “Holiday Gift Books So Pretty, No Need to Wrap”
“Beautifully designed.” —The Washington Post

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Product Details

Dover Publications
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.55(d)
1170L (what's this?)

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Have you heard of the great Forest of Burzee? Nurse used to sing of it when I was a child. She sang of the big tree-trunks, standing close together, with their roots intertwining below the earth and their branches intertwining above it; of their rough coating of bark and queer, gnarled limbs; of the bushy foliage that roofed the entire forest, save where the sunbeams found a path through which to touch the ground in little spots and to cast weird and curious shadows over the mosses, the lichens and the drifts of dried leaves.

The Forest of Burzee is mighty and grand and awesome to those who steal beneath its shade. Coming from the sunlit meadows into its mazes it seems at first gloomy, then pleasant, and afterward filled with never-ending delights.

For hundreds of years it has flourished in all its magnificence, the silence of its inclosure unbroken save by the chirp of busy chipmunks, the growl of wild beasts and the songs of birds.

Yet Burzee has its inhabitants—for all this. Nature peopled it in the beginning with Fairies, Knooks, Ryls and Nymphs. As long as the Forest stands it will be a home, a refuge and a playground to these sweet immortals, who revel undisturbed in its depths.

Civilization has never yet reached Burzee. Will it ever, I wonder?


The Child of the Forest

Once, so long ago our great-grandfathers could scarcely have heard it mentioned, there lived within the great Forest of Burzee a wood-nymph named Necile. She was closely related to the mighty Queen Zurline, and her home was beneath the shade of a widespreading oak. Once every year, on Budding Day, when the trees put forth their new buds, Necile held the Golden Chalice of Ak to the lips of the Queen, who drank therefrom to the prosperity of the Forest. So you see, she was a nymph of some importance, and, moreover, it is said she was highly regarded because of her beauty and grace.

When she was created she could not have told; Queen Zurline could not have told; the great Ak himself could not have told. It was long ago when the world was new and nymphs were needed to guard the forests and to minister to the wants of the young trees. Then, on some day not remembered, Necile sprang into being; radiant, lovely, straight and slim as the sapling she was created to guard.

Her hair was the color that lines a chestnut-bur; her eyes were blue in the sunlight and purple in the shade; her cheeks bloomed with the faint pink that edges the clouds at sunset; her lips were full red, pouting and sweet. For costume she adopted oak-leaf green; all the wood-nymphs dress in that color and know no other so desirable. Her dainty feet were sandal-clad, while her head remained bare of covering other than her silken tresses.

Necile’s duties were few and simple. She kept hurtful weeds from growing beneath her trees and sapping the earth-food required by her charges. She frightened away the Gadgols, who took evil delight in flying against the tree-trunks and wounding them so that they drooped and died from the poisonous contact. In dry seasons she carried water from the brooks and pools and moistened the roots of her thirsty dependents.

That was in the beginning. The weeds had now learned to avoid the forests where wood-nymphs dwelt; the loathsome Gadgols no longer dared come nigh; the trees had become old and sturdy and could bear the drought better than when fresh-sprouted. So Necile’s duties were lessened, and time grew laggard, while succeeding years became more tiresome and uneventful than the nymph’s joyous spirit loved.

Truly the forest-dwellers did not lack amusement. Each full moon they danced in the Royal Circle of the Queen. There were also the Feast of Nuts, the Jubilee of Autumn Tintings, the solemn ceremony of Leaf Shedding and the revelry of Budding Day. But these periods of enjoyment were far apart, and left many weary hours between.

That a wood-nymph should grow discontented was not thought of by Necile’s sisters. It came upon her only after many years of brooding. But when once she had settled in her mind that life was irksome she had no patience with her condition, and longed to do something of real interest and to pass her days in ways hitherto undreamed of by forest nymphs. The Law of the Forest alone restrained her from going forth in search of adventure.

While this mood lay heavy upon pretty Necile it chanced that the great Ak visited the Forest of Burzee and allowed the wood-nymphs—as was their wont—to lie at his feet and listen to the words of wisdom that fell from his lips. Ak is the Master Woodsman of the world; he sees everything, and knows more than the sons of men.

That night he held the Queen’s hand, for he loved the nymphs as a father loves his children; and Necile lay at his feet with many of her sisters and earnestly harkened as he spoke.

“We live so happily, my fair ones, in our forest glades,” said Ak, stroking his grizzled beard thoughtfully, “that we know nothing of the sorrow and misery that fall to the lot of those poor mortals who inhabit the open spaces of the earth. They are not of our race, it is true, yet compassion well befits beings so fairly favored as ourselves. Often as I pass by the dwelling of some suffering mortal I am tempted to stop and banish the poor thing’s misery. Yet suffering, in moderation, is the natural lot of mortals, and it is not our place to interfere with the laws of Nature.”

“Nevertheless,” said the fair Queen, nodding her golden head at the Master Woodsman, “it would not be a vain guess that Ak has often assisted these hapless mortals.”

Ak smiled.

“Sometimes,” he replied, “when they are very young—‘children,’ the mortals call them—I have stopped to rescue them from misery. The men and women I dare not interfere with; they must bear the burdens Nature has imposed upon them. But the helpless infants, the innocent children of men, have a right to be happy until they become full-grown and able to bear the trials of humanity. So I feel I am justified in assisting them. Not long ago—a year, maybe—I found four poor children huddled in a wooden hut, slowly freezing to death. Their parents had gone to a neighboring village for food, and had left a fire to warm their little ones while they were absent. But a storm arose and drifted the snow in their path, so they were long on the road. Meantime the fire went out and the frost crept into the bones of the waiting children.”

“Poor things!” murmured the Queen softly. “What did you do?”

“I called Nelko, bidding him fetch wood from my forests and breathe upon it until the fire blazed again and warmed the little room where the children lay. Then they ceased shivering and fell asleep until their parents came.”

“I am glad you did thus,” said the good Queen, beaming upon the Master; and Necile, who had eagerly listened to every word, echoed in a whisper: “I, too, am glad!”

“And this very night,” continued Ak, “as I came to the edge of Burzee I heard a feeble cry, which I judged came from a human infant. I looked about me and found, close to the forest, a helpless babe, lying quite naked upon the grasses and wailing piteously. Not far away, screened by the forest, crouched Shiegra, the lioness, intent upon devouring the infant for her evening meal.”

“And what did you do, Ak?” asked the Queen, breathlessly.

“Not much, being in a hurry to greet my nymphs. But I commanded Shiegra to lie close to the babe, and to give it her milk to quiet its hunger. And I told her to send word throughout the forest, to all beasts and reptiles, that the child should not be harmed.”

“I am glad you did thus,” said the good Queen again, in a tone of relief; but this time Necile did not echo her words, for the nymph, filled with a strange resolve, had suddenly stolen away from the group.

Swiftly her lithe form darted through the forest paths until she reached the edge of mighty Burzee, when she paused to gaze curiously about her. Never until now had she ventured so far, for the Law of the Forest had placed the nymphs in its inmost depths.

Necile knew she was breaking the Law, but the thought did not give pause to her dainty feet. She had decided to see with her own eyes this infant Ak had told of, for she had never yet beheld a child of man. All the immortals are full-grown; there are no children among them. Peering through the trees Necile saw the child lying on the grass. But now it was sweetly sleeping, having been comforted by the milk drawn from Shiegra. It was not old enough to know what peril means; if it did not feel hunger it was content.

Softly the nymph stole to the side of the babe and knelt upon the sward, her long robe of rose leaf color spreading about her like a gossamer cloud. Her lovely countenance expressed curiosity and surprise, but, most of all, a tender, womanly pity. The babe was new-born, chubby and pink. It was entirely helpless. While the nymph gazed the infant opened its eyes, smiled upon her, and stretched out two dimpled arms. In another instant Necile had caught it to her breast and was hurrying with it through the forest paths.


The Adoption

The Master Woodsman suddenly rose, with knitted brows. “There is a strange presence in the Forest,” he declared. Then the Queen and her nymphs turned and saw standing before them Necile, with the sleeping infant clasped tightly in her arms and a defiant look in her deep blue eyes.

And thus for a moment they remained, the nymphs filled with surprise and consternation, but the brow of the Master Woodsman gradually clearing as he gazed intently upon the beautiful immortal who had wilfully broken the Law. Then the great Ak, to the wonder of all, laid his hand softly on Necile’s flowing locks and kissed her on her fair forehead.

“For the first time within my knowledge,” said he, gently, “a nymph has defied me and my laws; yet in my heart can I find no word of chiding. What is your desire, Necile?”

“Let me keep the child!” she answered, beginning to tremble and falling on her knees in supplication.

“Here, in the Forest of Burzee, where the human race has never yet penetrated?” questioned Ak.

“Here, in the Forest of Burzee,” replied the nymph, boldly. “It is my home, and I am weary for lack of occupation. Let me care for the babe! See how weak and helpless it is. Surely it can not harm Burzee nor the Master Woodsman of the World!”

“But the Law, child, the Law!” cried Ak, sternly.

“The Law is made by the Master Woodsman,” returned Necile; “if he bids me care for the babe he himself has saved from death, who in all the world dare oppose me?” Queen Zurline, who had listened intently to this conversation, clapped her pretty hands gleefully at the nymph’s answer.

“You are fairly trapped, O Ak!” she exclaimed, laughing. “Now, I pray you, give heed to Necile’s petition.”

The Woodsman, as was his habit when in thought, stroked his grizzled beard slowly. Then he said:

“She shall keep the babe, and I will give it my protection. But I warn you all that as this is the first time I have relaxed the Law, so shall it be the last time. Never more, to the end of the World, shall a mortal be adopted by an immortal. Otherwise would we abandon our happy existence for one of trouble and anxiety. Good night, my nymphs!”

Then Ak was gone from their midst, and Necile hurried away to her bower to rejoice over her newfound treasure.



Another day found Necile’s bower the most popular place in the Forest. The nymphs clustered around her and the child that lay asleep in her lap, with expressions of curiosity and delight. Nor were they wanting in praises for the great Ak’s kindness in allowing Necile to keep the babe and to care for it. Even the Queen came to peer into the innocent childish face and to hold a helpless, chubby fist in her own fair hand.

“What shall we call him, Necile?” she asked, smiling. “He must have a name, you know.”

“Let him be called Claus,” answered Necile, “for that means ‘a little one.’”

“Rather let him be called Neclaus,”* returned the Queen, “for that will mean ‘Necile’s little one.’”

The nymphs clapped their hands in delight, and Neclaus became the infant’s name, although Necile loved best to call him Claus, and in afterdays many of her sisters followed her example.

Necile gathered the softest moss in all the forest for Claus to lie upon, and she made his bed in her own bower. Of food the infant had no lack. The nymphs searched the forest for bell-udders, which grow upon the goa-tree and when opened are found to be filled with sweet milk. And the soft-eyed does willingly gave a share of their milk to support the little stranger, while Shiegra, the lioness, often crept stealthily into Necile’s bower and purred softly as she lay beside the babe and fed it.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“For lit nerds and loved ones who are notoriously hard to shop for, you can’t go wrong with these festively bound classics. . . . Their size makes them perfectly stocking-stuffable.” —Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”
“Leave it to the folks at Penguin—who gave us Gothed-out editions of horror classics for Halloween—to package these . . . slim Yuletide-themed volumes.” —Newsday, “Best Books to Give as Holiday Gifts”
“Remember how Christmas was celebrated before Black Friday with these 19th-century authors, in small uniform volumes wrapped in pretty jackets.” —USA Today, “Holiday Gift Books So Pretty, No Need to Wrap”
“Beautifully designed.” —The Washington Post

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The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for L Frank Baum's "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" this book isn't it. This book is a beautiful retelling by Janeen Adil. The description above does not mention this fact. But, this book is about a hundred or more pages short. So, don't be fooled by the above description or the cover of this book. If you see it in a store, flip to the title page where it finally says, "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum, retold by Janeen R. Adil * Illustrated by Charles Santore". To get Baum's true version, you'll have to look for an unabridged printing. And, as beautiful as Santore's illustrations may be, they are not the original plates and drawings by Mary Cowles Clark. Again, this is a beautiful book but I'm incredibly disappointed to find that this is not the book I thought I was ordering.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I own one of these original Frank Baum books. As a child my grandmother read this story to my sister and me, one chapter at a time. Santa became more identifiable as a babe, adopted by wood nymphs and sprites. Donning the Cloak of Immortality makes the Santa story no only more plausible in a mortal sort of way but also more magically human and beyond. I frequently give gift copies to the adults with children or adults who continue to remain childlike.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this Christmas Eve by the glow if the tree after learning that the animated Christmas special I had once seen and loved was based on a book by the same author of a childhood favorite, The Wizard of Oz. It was a great take on the legend of Santa Claus that blends with my pagan beliefs. Quick, fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read. It's long but it's so good. I recommend it to anybody.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a good book to read on a quiet rainy day. I enjoyed the writers version of the characters who found and took care of Santa. I would read again and recommend to friends and family to read. My mom let me read this book on her new Nook. It was great.
designer-editor More than 1 year ago
Baum's backstoy of the popularized embodiment of the generous spirit of Christmas in the person of Santa Claus is wonderfully illustrated with detailed and nuanced mystical-and-realistic storyline and imagery that appeals to both girls and boys as well as to the child in all adults.
Elisande More than 1 year ago
This is a simply written account on how 'santa Claus' came to be. that he was raised by elves and how he befreinded all creatures of the magical forest and how he became the friends of the children. The real treasure in this book though is not the text. THE illustration are so gorgeous that come Yule time again I will try to get prints, methinx. The illustrations are unfashionable real in style not mangaesque or comicstyle. more in the line of norman rockwell but less stylised. I woudl unequivocally recomend this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great book about one of the world's most familiar characters. Charming with beautiful illustrations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfull book for the Holidays. It captures every Childs imagination. and captured mine when I was young. I still cherish this book because of the format it is put in to. I still read it today.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The life and adventures of santa clause was a good book, but hard to understand. The way the author discribed the characters was great, even though they are really old, they were really beuatifull. I think it needs more exiting events.
LoveReadingIL More than 1 year ago
This new edition should help to make this a classic in children's literature. The illustrations are beautiful & just right for the story. This is a book for the whole family.