In her second book about Chips and his best friend, Jessie, Hughes again mixes short stories and comic-strip art to tell four stories in a humorously inviting format. The focus is primarily on Chips as he, by turns, deals with the inconveniences of his mother's spring cleaning; the visit of a particularly obnoxious middle-aged cousin; the reaction of his cat, Albert, to a small but cute feline invader; and the attempts of Barkis (Jessie's dog) to join the neighborhood carolers, attempts which have surprisingly profitable results. The first story, ""Spring Fever,"" and the last, ""We Wish You a Merry Christmas,"" are done entirely as comic strips and bracket the two longer, interior stories, which artfully mix illustration and witty text to add texture to basically predictable plots. Especially well done is Cousin Waldo, a health-nut done in by his affection for apple pie and spaghetti and Chip's clever work with the bathroom scale. Also memorable are Albert's Machiavellian tactics against a kitten who deflects Chips' attention and threatens to take his place in the household. Hughes' eye for illustrative detail and her ear for humor carry the day; and her inventive format will draw even the most reluctant reader into the slightly British but very funny neighborhood at Mallard Street.