Before Santa Claus was Santa Claus, he was a boy, and this is his story. Young Claus is an origin story and a fable for both adults and children, in the tradition of The Little Prince and The Last Unicorn. Young Lars Claus loses his father in a logging accident and, with his mother and grandmother, has to move to a strange land in the Far North, a land of exiles, outcasts, and survivors. Here he encounters a school where the children only laugh at the misfortunes of others; where no one has ever seen a tree; where small, bizarre tomten are imprisoned beneath a fish-liver-oil factory; and where his widowed mother is courted by the malevolent Mayor Wolfpaw. This is a wild romp of a book that soars into the skies and plunges deep beneath the permafrost. It is a book filled with marvels and ghosts, a book where Lars, with the aid of invisible helpers, will learn to carve; where he will discover sorrows as deep as his own, and eventually, the healing powers of gifts. It charts the journey of a boy beset by grief who will, after many trials, fashion a vision of generosity that will encompass the entire world.
The author of nine books, including Famous Writers I Have Known, James Magnuson lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Hester. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he is also a playwright, screenwriter, and for twenty-three years was the director of the Michener Center for Writers. He once spent Christmas in an igloo in the Arctic when the temperature was thirty-five degrees below zero.
"Only Coleridge's phrase will do—Jim Magnuson's Young Claus is a miracle of rare device. This tale of how a boy became the legend has it all. It blends the power of myth with the pleasure of mirth, combines high adventure with delightful invention. This anthem of hopefulness is somehow charming and thrilling at the same time. I could go on and on about this book—a beautiful, beautiful act of imagination."
—Hugh O’Neill, author of Daddy Cool
“The Germans called their fairy tales Wundermärchen, and this is one amazing, big-hearted, gloriously imagined, dark, deeply moving, astonishing, utterly splendid wonder tale. A book about joy, and the human imagination, and how life can be lifted by the smallest piece of generosity. What a page-turning marvel this book is. I completely adored it.”
— Edward Carey
Author of Little and The Iremonger Trilogy