Readers will be attracted by the look of Gammell's watercolors, with their blend of vibrant clarity and snowy softness; and his story opens on the crest of expectation--as Bear decides that, this year, he'll set his clock and wake up for the Christmas holiday. Bear's expectations are indeed fulfilled, but readers may feel let down by Gammell's descent to triteness. Bear is enjoying his tree on Christmas Eve when he's visited by a funny little bald man in a long white beard and long red coat. After a chat and some songs (not specified), the "little fellow" invites Bear for a ride, and the two take off into the sky in a crude, crate-like, one-horse sleigh. Bear, who speaks in rhyme throughout, then bursts out: "'Oh, what a Christmas!' hollered Bear./ 'I've never had such fun./ I'd like to think that it could be/like this for everyone./ But most of all, just meeting you/has really brought me cheer./ Why don't we plan, my little friend,/to do this every year?'" But this sort of assembly-line cheer is turned out every year--in greeting cards and picture books alike.