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A Kidnapped Santa Claus

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"A Kidnapped Santa Claus" is a short story written by L. Frank Baum and published in The Delineator in December 1904. It is a continuation of the story set forth in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, telling how Santa Claus was kidnapped by the Daemons in a plan to make children unhappy.

The story was illustrated by Frederick Richardson, who also illustrated Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix a year later. It has been called "one of Baum's most beautiful stories,"[1] and constitutes a notable contribution to the mythology of Christmas.

Baum's mythos

"A Kidnapped Santa Claus" was published two years after Baum's novel on Santa Claus, and shares its mythological cosmos. In the story as in the novel, Santa lives in the Laughing Valley on the border of the Forest of Burzee, and is assisted by Knooks, Ryls, Fairies, and Pixies. In modern editions the two works, novel and short story, are sometimes published together.[2][3]

Though the short story has strong similarities with the novel, it has been interpreted as presenting "a less rosy view" of the world,[4] in that it shows elements of evil as fundamental to existence, and ineradicable.


The story opens with a quick overview of Santa's castle in the Laughing Valley. Its focus soon switches to the five Caves of the Daemons in nearby (though unnamed) mountains. The Daemons of Selfishness, Envy, Hatred, and Malice resent Santa because children under the influence of his gifts rarely visit their caves. They want to frustrate his efforts and counter his influence. (The Daemon of Repentance goes along with their plan, since children cannot reach his remote cavern without passing through the prior caves of his compatriots.) The Daemons first try to tempt Santa to their own vices; they visit him one by one, and attempt to lure him into selfishness, envy, and hatred. Santa merely laughs at their clumsy efforts. Failing at temptation, the Daemons kidnap Santa instead, lassoing him as he rides in his sleigh on Christmas Eve and binding him in their caverns.

Santa Claus is accompanied on his rounds by a fairy, pixie, knook, and ryl, who travel under the seat of his sleigh. Once the four realize that Santa is gone, they endeavor to complete his mission and deliver the gifts. They generally succeed, though with some mistakes: they send a toy drum to a little girl and a sewing kit to a little boy. Overall, though, they manage to save Christmas.

Then they report Santa's absence; the fairy queen of Burzee understands what has happened. An army of magical creatures is mustered to rescue the missing hero. Meanwhile, though, Santa is released from captivity by the Daemon of Repentance, who has repented the kidnapping. Santa meets the army on its way, and turns it back from attacking the daemons.


In the seventh chapter of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, titled "The Great Battle Between Good and Evil," Baum depicts a combat between massed magical forces. Here in the story he chooses a pacifistic alternative to grand conflict, an approach he would also take a few years later in The Emerald City of Oz

The Daemons of the story as pagan figures rather than Christian demons, in that they are not servants of Satan or necessaily evil. Four of the five, the Daemons of Sefishness, Envy, Hatred, and Malice, certainly are bad, but the fifth, the Daemon of Repentance, is a more ambiguous entity.

The obvious model for the Daemon's temptation of Santa is the Temptation of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels (an interesting mix of Christian and pagan elements in one story).

Later editions, adaptations, influences

"A Kidnapped Santa Claus" appeared in an anthology of Christmas stories in 1915. The Baum Bugle reprinted it at Christmas 1968. The story was released in book form in 1969, with a Foreword by Martin Williams and new illustrations by Richard Rosenblum. It has been issued in multiple editions, in multiple forms, since.

In 1989 the story was adapted into a musical play for children, Santa Claus is Missing!, by Sylvia Ashby, with songs by Scott Taylor. Another adaptation came in the form of the animated film Who Stole Santa? in the Oz Kids series (1996). A modernized graphic novel adaptation by artist Alex Robinson was released in 2009. More generally, the idea of kidnapping Santa Claus has been used by other artists in other works, as in Jean Van Leeuwen's book The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper (1975), Tim Burton's film The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and Ruth Ann Pattee's play Can Mrs. Claus Save Christmas? (2000).

See also


  1. Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997; p. 112.
  2. L. Frank Baum, The Complete Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Holicong, PA, Wildside Press, 2002.
  3. L. Frank Baum, L. Frank Baum's Book of Santa Claus, Radford, VA, Wilder Publications, 2007.
  4. Katharine M. Rogers, L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography, New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002; p. 102.

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