Christmas Round Up: Helen Slavin

Festive Round Up

Happy first day of advent! It’s December 1st, which means Christmas is just around the corner. To help kick off the festive season, we thought we’d have Helen Slavin, author of the recently released The Stopping Place, share her favourite Christmas reads.


I am a bit of Humbug about Christmas. I’m not into Slade or Mariah I’m afraid. I’m a Gaudete kind of old crone. I like a tree and I like twinkly lights and in general, spiritually, my leanings are entirely Pagan. I believe in Yule and holly and a fire, one in the hearth not on your Christmas tree. The whole bells and whistles of the media style Christmas makes me, well, puke.

sherlockwilliam brownharvey

Perfect time, therefore to hide in a book. I like a bit of Sherlock Holmes myself. I think the Victorian era seems to lend itself to candlelight and darkened windows. I love a hansom cab rolling through my head and Sherlock busy pondering the Blue Carbuncle or hiring the Norwood Builder.

For true festivity you can’t go wrong with a bit of William Brown. Or quite a lot of him actually. I’ve long been a fan of the Martin Jarvis BBC Audio readings and the Christmas stories are particularly good. Snowmen. Pensioners vs Toddlers. Mayhem. You can’t ask for much more. There’s the Christmas Truce and of course the delightful Christmas when William is inspired by a sermon to ‘tell the truth’. A lesson to us all. I’m laughing just thinking about it.

I have to say that I am also not a fan of slushy sentimentalism. I cannot stand anything miserable at Christmas or seeping with nostalgia. The whole season reeks with it anyway, which is part of the problem, dragging us towards a toast to ‘absent friends’. I dislike books like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. So don’t put those in my grim, grey stocking.

So now you know that I’m the Grinch I need to redeem myself. Here goes. My all time favourite Christmas book is not a worthy literary classic or an edgy Scandi-Noir thriller crisp with new snow. Nope.

Fanfare of angel trumpets.

Are you ready for this? You should, perhaps, be sitting down.

Christmas, that stressful time, when the tinsel is strangling you and if you hear ‘I wish it could be Christmas’ one more time you’ll be triggered into punching an elf, is the moment to reach for my favourite Christmas read. It is the small wonder that is ‘Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present’ by John Burningham.

If you haven’t read this book, do yourself a Yuletide favour and procure yourself a copy. Sit all your relatives down, however drunk, however aged, however tear-stained and brawl-bruised. Read them ‘Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present’ and all will be well.

Come back next Friday for more Christmas reads from more of our very own Ipso Books authors. To keep up to date with new releases and special offers, make sure you’re following our twitter at @IpsoBooks.