Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow's Magic Sled

Just the year before he died, Jack Snow published a Christmas story in a magazine called "Inside AHS." Snow is mainly remembered for his two Oz novels The Magical Mimics in Oz and The Shaggy Man of Oz, as well as Who's Who In Oz. It is rumored that he had a third Oz story in the works. However, he wrote a wide variety of tales, some rather horrific and disturbing, and some very whimsical.

Such a tale is The Magic Sled, originally published in Inside AHS, it was most recently made available in Oz-Story #5 in 1999 with illustrations by Eric Shanower.

In the story, a little boy named Bobby gets a sled for his birthday, which happens to fall on Christmas Eve. That night, he is visited by Santa Claus, who tells him that the sled is magical, being made with wood from a tree in the Forest of Burzee. Santa Claus must take the sled back, but he gives Bobby a ride on it. Tying it to the back of the sleigh, Bobby flies through the sky with Santa Claus. Finally, he must return home, so Santa Claus cuts the cord, promising that Bobby will find a replacement sled just like the magic one. Bobby lands and awakens in his bed on a snowy Christmas morning.

The story has to be one of the most beautifully done stories I've ever read, and even better, it seems to tie in with Baum's Santa Claus mythos. Or does it? While Santa Claus mentions the Forest of Burzee, he has eight reindeer, while in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, he has ten. In addition, Snow names six of the eight reindeer: Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen, Comet, and Vixen, names from The Night Before Christmas. Perhaps the other two are Flossie and Glossie, or Dasher and Cupid. We could guess that Santa has had to change out deer since he started making his annual Christmas deliveries, but that doesn't explain why he decided he needed two less reindeer.

Another idea is that it is very possible that Bobby's journey is just a dream he had. He goes to sleep, then awakes when he sees Santa Claus, and when he leaves the sleigh, he ends up in his bed. This makes me think it is a dream, and thus may explain why some of the details about the Santa Claus mythos (either from Moore or Baum) are a little mixed. Story-wise, that is. I believe I read that Snow had to sell off a lot of his Oz and Baum collection, so I wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't read Baum's Santa Claus tale in awhile.

All the same, I think this story has been largely overlooked and should be a true Christmas classic, just like it deserves to be.

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