With characteristically uncloying gentleness and a conscious use of familiar devices that is neither burlesque nor banality, the Hobans depict an affectionate otter family (just Emmet and his widowed mother) in a softly glowing old-fashioned setting. Outdoing O. Henry's Magi, both Emmet and his mother secretly enter the pre-Christmas amateur contest, each hoping to win the $50.00 prize and buy the other a Christmas present. To enter, Emmet makes a hole in his mother's washtub, her means of livelihood, so he can play it in the Frogtown Hollow Jug Band; his mother in turn pawns Emmet's tools, with which he does odd jobs for the neighbors, for a dress in which to perform as a singer. Both contestants lose, of course, for into this fondly pictured scene comes The Nightmare, a woodchuck group complete with light man, who perform the Riverbottom Rock and Swampland Stone in silvery, spangled costumes. "Well, we took a chance and we lost. That's how it goes," agree the losers, and walking home on the river Ma Otter and the Frogtown Hollow Boys sing so pleasantly that old Doc Bullfrog, digging their "real down-home sound," offers them a steady gig at his Riverside Rest home. Wherever your home, it's a real down-home Christmas story.