It's 1964 and 10-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he'll never forget. LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade - easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his listeners straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School - where Mother Filomina's word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone's business.But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Québec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kapakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin' and Hopin' barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.From the Funicello family's bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin' and Hopin' is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we've been - and how far we've come.More
Wally Lamb narrates this grand slice of American life circa 1964 in the words of 10-year-old Felix Funicello. Adding to the joy, he focuses on one memorable Christmas. Felix is a fifth grader at St. Aloysius Catholic School in New London, Connecticut. Lamb as narrator is glorious; the large Funicello family is warm and distinctive while Felix's fiesty Russian classmate, Zhenya, is hilarious with her mispronunciations of which "bezball" for "baseball" is but one example. As Felix, Lamb speaks kid English and often adds breathless additions or asides to his narrative. Most boisterous is the school's live Christmas tableau during which things go merrily awry. His standout is Felix's Quebecois substitute teacher with her distinctive French laugh. Many listeners will undoubtedly add this treat
"Charming....Full of pop-culture references of the day. This will have broad appeal." (Library Journal)
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Laughing Out Loud
- Paula Beck