WISHIN' AND HOPIN'
This is a heartwarming slice of life in 1964 as seen through the eyes of 10-year-old Felix Funicello, distant cousin of reigning teen queen Annette. Having the narrative filter through the pop
culture of the day gives the story an authentic feel. The entertaining characters will bring back youthful memories.
It's the fall of 1964 in Three Rivers, Conn., and Felix is trying to navigate the fifth grade at the parochial school where Mother Filomina's word is law. Felix is the shortest, scrawniest kid in the class (even counting the girls) and bears a striking resemblance to Dondi, an adorable comic strip war orphan.
It's hard for Felix to keep his attention on his schoolwork with the magic of television waiting at home, his mother's upcoming appearance at the Pillsbury Bake-Off and the happenings at the Funicello family's bus station lunch counter. But with the holidays approaching, Felix has no idea that he's going to have a Christmas that will go down as one of the best ever. (HARPER, Nov., 275 pp., $19.99)