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Editorial Reviews

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
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Publisher's Summary

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.
©2009 Wally Lamb; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
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Critic Reviews

"Charming....Full of pop-culture references of the day. This will have broad appeal." (Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Kathi on 11-16-16

Pleasant surprise

I've read several novels by Wally Lamb, and while I loved them, they were more serious and heavy in theme and presentation. This was such a delightful surprise. It simply demonstrates how versatile a writer Lamb is.

I guess this is a combination coming of age and Christmas comedy. Felix Funicello, who is distantly related to Annette Funicello--of Mickey Mouse, etc, fame, is still a bit of an innocent when the story takes place. His peers are beginning to get a bit more informed and sophisticated, so part of the amusement comes from realizing we were all, at some point in our lives, caught between being in the know, and sort of out of it at the same time. Felix attempts to act as though he understands things still a bit over his head, while often not really getting all the innuendoes of things said around him. But the plot is so funny! When the nun who is his teacher has a nervous breakdown in class, she is replaced by a sexy French-speaking lay teacher in a catholic school in the 60's, and the scene is set for lots of laughing. The end of the book is just laugh out loud hilarious.

The narration was pitch perfect, the story was great, so don't be put off by the short length of the book. Worth every bit of the credit, and then some! I loved it!

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

By Paula Beck on 02-13-11

Laughing Out Loud

I was pleasantly surprised by this little book...I haven't read any of Wally Lamb's others. Since I grew up in the same time and vicinity as the narrator, this book rang so true to me. Nothing like growing up Catholic!

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Amazon Customer on 05-28-15

Not what I was hoping for, but still good

Wally's first book stayed with me for many years, wished this would've been the same.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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