Though Arthur the monkey can't hold a Christmas candle to last year's Emmet Otter, his problems in the kitchen offer recognition and amusement, and his solution might even provide beginning readers with inspiration for their own Christmas giving. As Arthur has spent his money and messed up a lamp he was making, the cookies are intended as a gift for his parents. But after all the mixing and baking, interspersed with some gentle jostling with his sister, and two friends, it turns out that he's used salt instead of sugar. What saves Arthur's project and the story is his realization, after a few tears, that the cookies (already shaped like trees, stars and bells) have the same ingredients as ""play clay,"" so that by painting them different colors he can turn them into ornaments. The warmly colored pictures of Arthur's awkward labors help make this ""a good present after all.