cover image Horrible Holidays

Horrible Holidays

Audrey Wood. Dial Books, $9.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0544-9

In this Dial Easy-to-Read, the collaborators of Three Sisters now focus their attentions on cousins. Poor Alf has to put up with his loudmouth, snotty cousin Mert, who arrives like clockwork with the holidays named in these chapters: ``The No-Thanksgiving,'' ``The Crummy Christmas'' and ``The Unhappy New Year.'' Mert's idea of a card trick is to stick a card on Alf's posterior when he's not looking and, before anyone can eat, she reads a long poem about what she's giving thanks for. At Christmas, she tells Alf what is in each of his packages, spoiling the surprises. And at New Year's, Mert returns a present that went to her by mistake, minus the batteries. The last frame of the story slyly lets readers know that Alf gets the last laughbut just barely. These two are funny rivals; their tricks and their insults are pitch-perfect. Hoffman's idiosyncratic cousins, with their oddly expressive faces and postures, carry out Wood's nasty piece of plotting with aplomb. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)