In her second collection of short stories, Rylant gives her readers a series of vignettes, uneven in their effects but stylish in their execution. Each of the six stories is a portrait drawn from the Christmas season. The first and fifth (""Christmas Tree Man"" and ""Silver Packages"") are descriptions of the role of Christmas in the lives of their subjects--one about a lonely man whose family consists of the Christmas trees he grows and the people who buy them; the other about a boy growing up in poor circumstances who spends each Christmas in expectation of the packages thrown off a train by a philanthropist grateful to his community. The others describe specific incidents occurring during the Christmas season: a cat comes into a diner, bringing its customers momentarily together on Christmas Eve; a neglected girl brings Christmas to herself by walking through a city and watching the joy of others; and so forth. As a collection, this often slips into the sentimental, but it's always saved by Rylant's distinctive, sharply concrete prose, placing the reader directly into the experience of the protagonist. The final story, about a bag lady who creeps into a library and loams about wonder, is particularly hard-edged and fine. A high quality addition to any holiday collection.