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IU Press book answers children’s most burning holiday question: ‘But What If There’s No Chimney?’

Dec. 7, 2016

As Christmas draws near, children are crafting their lists, checking them twice and hoping Santa will slide down their chimney in a few short weeks, leaving their wish under a sparkling tree.

But what if there’s no chimney? 

Children's book

The children's picture book was inspired by the thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus that get sent to Santa Claus, Indiana, each year. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC RUDD, IU COMMUNICATIONS

That’s the million-dollar question for Mandy Hussey, the marketing director at the IU Health Center and first-time author. 

Hussey was formerly the marketing and publicity manager at IU Press, and through promoting other people’s work, she developed an interest in penning a book of her own. In fact, it was her work on the book “Letters to Santa Claus” that led to the creation of “But What If There’s No Chimney?”; Hussey is a co-author with Emily Weisner Thompson, the executive director of the Santa Claus Museum & Village in Santa Claus, Indiana. 

Enter to win
IU faculty and staff with a valid IU email address can enter to win one of two copies of "But What If There's No Chimney," a $12 value, courtesy of IU Press. The contest opens Dec. 7 and closes at 4 p.m. Dec. 12.

An operation was developed at the museum, called “Santa’s Elves,” to ensure the 15,000-plus children and adults who send a letter to Santa Claus each year receive a reply. The tradition started in 1914 when the United States Post Office began to forward letters addressed to Santa Claus to the post office in the Indiana town named after the jolly man with the white beard and red suit. 

Inspired by the thousands of letters that are sent to the workshop each year, Hussey and Thompson developed the perfect idea for a children's picture book. Many of the letters asked: How will Santa be able to deliver presents to my house if we don’t have a chimney? 

“But What If There’s No Chimney?” tells the story of Ben, a 5-year-old whose family has moved into a new house. He becomes concerned when he notices his new home doesn’t have a chimney and begins to search for answers on how Santa Claus will deliver gifts to his home. Finally, he decides to write a letter to Santa Claus himself to get the answers. 

“We wanted to help kids out with this common question in a fun way,” Hussey said. “We ended up creating a book that isn’t quite like any others IU Press has done before but still fits in with what they do because of its regional audience.”

Mandy Hussey

Mandy Hussey, the marketing director at the IU Health Center, is a co-author of "But What If There's No Chimney?"

For Hussey, switching from the publicist role to the author role was eye opening. For years, she worked with authors who wanted every aspect of the book to be perfect, even fretting about the feedback they would receive. Now she understands why authors develop such an attachment to their work. Perhaps the biggest difference for Hussey is seeing the finished product on shelves in bookstores. 

“It’s exciting to see your name on a book cover and know the work is your own,” she said. “It’s fun to promote other authors’ books, but it’s a completely different story when it’s your own.” 

The story takes place in Santa Claus, Indiana, and all proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Santa Claus Museum & Village. On Dec. 10, Hussey and Weisner will at the museum for a reading and book-signing event.

Locally, autographed copies can be found at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble. The book is also available on Amazon, the IU Press website, at the Santa Claus Museum & Village and other book retailers.

Letters addressed to Santa Claus can be sent to P.O. Box 1, Santa Claus, IN 47579.  

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