Our sympathy is all with mean Rat in this cheerless Christmas story which begins by showing how Rat got his evil ways: his unkempt-looking parents threatened to wash his mouth out with soap if he ever said please, and threw out his potatoes to drive home the lesson. It's not surprising then when a grow-up, bullying Rat decides to sabotage the other animals' Christmas party. What is surprising after that childhood scene is the absence of Scrooge-like redemption. Instead, when Rat foils himself and gets stuck in a bowl of vinegar-spiked punch, the other animals leave him to stew while they take their party elsewhere. It's illustrated with gusto, but the vinegar galls.