It's Christmas Eve and Max is determined to wait up for Santa.
"No, Max," says his big sister, Ruby. "Nobody ever sees Santa Claus."
But Max tiptoes downstairs, where he hopes to meet a very special visitor.
Glad tidings for Max fansthe bunny of board-book fame now stars in his first picture book. Sister Ruby has to drag Max up the steps, scrub his face with a washcloth and remind him to "Spit, Max,'' as he brushes his teeth. It's Christmas Eve, and Max has a lot of questions about Santa Clausquestions Ruby answers with a ``Because!'' Not satisfied, the curious bunny sneaks downstairs to wait for the man in red. A bunny-angel at the top of the tree looks on as Santa himself answers some of Max's questions. But he, too, resorts to a ``Because!'' Max falls asleep. The next day, Ruby has queries of her own when she finds Max on the couch with a lap full of Christmas presents. Max's main answer? ``Because!'' Young readers will want to join resoundingly in that last lineone of the adult world's most ungratifying responses. Wells's pudgy bunnies and delightfully understated story will inspire year-round cravings for candy canes and early yearnings for yule logs. (3-7)