WAS THAT CHRISTMAS?
Santa's visit to her preschool leaves Bella disconsolate: he didn't bring a present for her cat, he didn't bring his reindeer, and there isn't any snow. "Was that Christmas?" she wails. Her mother assures her that it's "just the beginning," and outlines upcoming preparations. Bella replays her question twice more, giving her father and grandmother each a chance to describe more traditions. As in her novels, McKay (The Exiles) mines family dynamics with wit as well as tenderness, and the patterned structure, like Harvey's (My Friend John) mellow vignettes, will beguile a preschool audience. Ages 2-6. (Oct.)