cover image Olivia Helps with Christmas

Olivia Helps with Christmas

Ian Falconer, . . S&S/Atheneum, $18.99 (58pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0786-2

More a succession of family anecdotes-in-the-making than a plot-driven story, the holiday installment of a much-loved series finds the adroitly accessorized piglet and her family decking the halls of a house in the country on Christmas Eve. Olivia, charged with “a very special job” (Mom-speak for interrupting the “Santa watch” Olivia and her younger brothers mount by the rain-streaked picture window), proudly shows off the table she has set by herself, topped with a decorated miniature tree: “Why, that's beautiful, darling. Where did you ever find that perfect little…” her mother beams; open the gatefold to see the rest of the room, where a saw and a stool stand next to the family's (decapitated) “…tree?” as the mother falteringly completes the question. Readers will claim other episodes as their own favorites; as usual, Falconer knows how to play pictures and text off each other to maximum comic impact. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)