Thursday, December 27, 2012

Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas present

What did you get for Christmas?  At the end of a hard night of deliveries Santa discovers there is one present still left in his sack so he must set off again.

 "Harvey Slumfenburger's parents were too poor to buy him presents.  He knew that Harvey Slumfenburger only ever got one present, and that was the present which Father Christmas brought him.  He knew that Harvey Slumfenburger lived in a hut at the top of the Roly Poly Mountain, which was far far away."

Reading this book feels like a marathon mirroring the marathon journey that Santa undertakes on Christmas eve - there will be times when you think you can't make it to the top of the mountain.

Santa has to keep explaining his purpose as he struggles to find the right transport. The reindeer have been far to tired to set off again so Santa walks until he meets a man with an aeroplane. The plane is forced to land when the snow storm becomes too heavy. Santa sets off on foot again until he meets a man with a jeep. The jeep skids into a fence and a tree and while no one is hurt Santa must once again set off on foot until he meets a boy on a motorbike. The bike also slides on the ice so Santa sets off again and meets a girl on skis.  The skis break so next he asks for help from a climber with a rope. Santa finally gets to the top of the cliff and walks the last few meters to the hut.  He climbs down the chimney and delivers the present for Harvey and then poor Santa makes the long journey home.

In the morning Harvey Slumfenburger wakes up and sees a present at the end of his bed.

This book is an absolute classic.  It should be on every Christmas picture book list.  There is real tension, the illustrations are wonderful and there is a surprise on the last page.  Here is a review. I adore the work of John Burningham and after you read this book you should look for Avocado Baby, Where's Julius and my all time favourite Cannonball Simp.  One final thing - do you agree the name Harvey Slumfenburger is absolutely perfect?

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