Saturday, November 26, 2016
Wishin' and Hopin'
Posted by JaneGS
Last December I read I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb, and then moved straight into holiday reading in a big way. I really loved I Know This Much is True and did a search on other books by Wally Lamb, and discovered that he had a Christmas novella, Wishin' and Hopin', which I promptly got and vowed to read as part of this year's holiday reading.
It was so much fun!
Felix Funicello lives with his parents and two older sisters in Three Rivers, Connecticut, same town where Dominick and Thomas live in I Know This Much is True, but apart from great writing, including sterling dialogue (and writing realistic dialogue for 5th graders isn't easy!), the two works don't have anything in common really.
Felix is an adorable kid (ala Dondi--I haven't thought of Dondi for probably 40 years!). He's smart without being precocious or annoying, innocent without being unbelievable. His best friend is 12-year old Lonny who has been held back and has a tough homelife, and who attempts to educate him on the birds and bees, when his father stumbles in this department.
We have a Catholic school setting, a French-Canadian substitute teacher, a new girl from the Soviet Union, a Pillsbury Bake-off, and an insufferable top-of-class, know-it-all girl with rich parents (Muffy from PBS's Arthur was who I kept thinking of, but she at least had a heart). Lamb clearly had a whole lot of fun writing this novella and inventing screwy names for his characters, Sister Dymphana is a great example.
Oh, and did I mention that Felix's father is a distant cousin of Annette Funicello, whom the family all worship?
The final Christmas pageant that the school puts on is the best slapstick routine I've read since The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and it had me laughing out loud.
If you're still looking for great short holiday stories to fill out your holiday reading this year, I heartily recommend this one.
I just discovered there was a movie version of this in 2014. Now, I have to find it and watch, but meanwhile here's a scene from the movie.