Unlike cows and sheep, pigs are barnyard animals that rarely appear in picture books that depict a traditional Nativity scene. However, that doesn't mean that they don't have a presence within the genre of Christmas picture books. In fact, there are many books that incorporate porkers, albeit usually in a fully anthropomorphic manner. Here are a few of them.

Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All - Ted Dewan wrote and illustrated this endearing story of a spoiled young pig who fails to find satisfaction in his numerous possessions. In the first Harry Potter book, Hagrid partially transforms Harry's greedy cousin Dudley into a pig, and it's easy to make the comparison to him here. But a change comes when Crispin receives an empty box for Christmas; when he throws it out on the front lawn in disgust, it attracts neighbors, who become the lonely little pig's first friends. The illustrations in the book are remarkably detailed, full of specific references to books and elements of pop culture, and they are simply a joy to look at. Dewan shows particular skill in depicting light, which is appropriate for such an illuminating book.

Poppleton in Winter - Cynthia Rylant is one of the most prolific authors around, and Poppleton is one of her many established characters. An unassuming middle-aged pig, he lives in a quiet home and occasionally has mild adventures involving his small circle of friends, who include a llama and a goat, among others. This book isn't particularly Christmassy, as it focuses primarily on generic winter activities wonderfully illustrated by Mark Teague, but the three stories still have a warmth to counteract the snow on the ground, especially in the aesthetically pleasing final tale about a moonlit sleigh ride.

Olivia Helps With Christmas - Olivia, too, is a pig who stars in several different books. Ian Falconer is the man responsible for her adventures, and he weaves a charming, albeit rather run-of-the-mill, story of family togetherness in this book. Olivia is a rambunctious youngster, so behaving herself is a difficult task, but she manages to lend a hand with the Christmas preparations even though she is so excited she can scarcely sit still. Just a nice depiction of a traditional family Christmas celebration, aided by several amusing pictures, particularly those that involve her attempting to untangle a string of Christmas lights.

Toot and Puddle Let It Snow - Toot and Puddle have also turned up in a number of adventures by famed artist Holly Hobbie. In this story, the two porcine friends are caught up in musings over what to get each other for Christmas. This book should strike a chord with anyone who has ever had difficulty in deciding what gift to give a friend or family member. Each friend thinks the matter through with extreme care, coming up with something unique and heartfelt. As sweet as the story itself is, the gentle watercolors, full of understated earth tones, whisk the reader off into a simpler world. As an added bonus, the book comes with four Christmas tree ornaments.

Merry Christmas, Geraldine - Of all the pigs in this list, Geraldine probably acts the piggiest, at least by the end of the story. While Crispin starts off as a selfish brat, he undergoes a significant change. Geraldine doesn't quite seem to manage it in this story by Holly Keller. She wants a gigantic Christmas tree. A tree so big that its top will scrape the ceiling. Mom assures her that such a big conifer will be too impractical, but when Geraldine goes to collect the tree, she ignores her mother's instructions, along with the urging of her little brother to remember the directions she was given. While Geraldine occasionally shows concern and affection for her brother Willie throughout the book, for the most part, she disregards him, treating him as an inconvenience, and she's more concerned with her particular vision of Christmas than she is about his well-being. The book concludes with everyone content, but Geraldine hasn't learned anything, and Willie is completely worn out from his ordeal with his sister. I suppose Geraldine gets points for sticking to her guns, but in this context, it's not much of an admirable trait. This is one pig whose behavior youngsters would do best not to emulate.

Merry Christmas, Amanda & April - In this book, Amanda is a pig rather like Geraldine. She has a younger sibling - in this case, a sister named April. She also has a very difficult time following directions. But Amanda also has a compassionate spirit, as well as an awareness of her own failings. As the story begins, she worries that her behavior might not be good enough to land her a spot on the "nice" list. Throughout the story, she tries to overcome her selfish impulses, but whether she's hiding April's hat so she can't accompany her on her trek to the store or sledding in the park instead of going directly to the store for baking supplies, she has a habit of faltering. In one key instance, however, she is moved to be generous and selfless with no urging from outside sources. A sweet story about sisterhood and forgiveness, with fun illustrations full of pig-specific details that add to the enjoyment.

Christmas Without a Tree - Charlie is a sweet little pig who is excited for his family's Christmas preparations. He worries, however, because his crotchety neighbor, a reclusive badger, doesn't seem to have caught the Christmas spirit. His house is devoid of decorations, and he snarls at passersby. Instead of being affronted by his unfriendliness, Charlie feels sorry for him and plots a way to bring his neighbor a happy holiday. Elizabeth Rodger's illustration style reminds me of Richard Scarry, who has long been one of my favorite creators of children's books, but it's the story itself that really impresses me as Charlie's consideration makes him the most precious pig on this list.

If pigs make you go pink with pleasure, check out some of these picture books. With an oink, oink here and an oink, oink there, these pigs - or at least most of them - will help you to get into the Christmas spirit.