Alexandra Day, , illus. by Day. . HarperCollins, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205151-6

Day and Edens make hay with this sequel to The Christmas We Moved to the Barn. Taffy MacDonald heads a family of 17—two daughters plus a pony, pig, dogs, cats and other assorted creatures, all of them sharing quarters in a barn (the picture of everyone sitting down to eat at a very long table is quintessential Day in its blend of realism and whimsy). When the postman retires, Taffy gets his job delivering the mail in the valley, and the whole family pitches in. Wordless spreads show the preparations: Taffy fits a mailbag onto the pony, a girl teaches a donkey how to alphabetize while her sister reads a book marked "Door to door and so much more" to an attentive dog and cat as other animals practice canceling stamps. The illustration of the multi-species carriers on their first day of the job has special charm—somehow Day makes her mail-bearing cockatiel and parrot, her cart-pulling dog and the rest seem perfectly plausible in their roles. The story twists as Taffy's daughters realize that some people on their route never get any mail; to rectify that situation, they join with the animals and Taffy to prepare the "special deliveries" of the title. Beguilingly and deceptively straightforward, this volume offers imaginative pleasures at every turn. Ages 4-8. (May)