THE BOAT OF DREAMS: A Christmas Story

Richard Preston, Author, George Henry Jennings, Illustrator . Touchstone $15 (111p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4592-0

The gloomy days of a Maine winter seem colder and darker for Will Jr., Lila and their mother, Sarah Ann, as Christmas 1969 approaches—the first without their dad, a lobsterman, who was sent to Vietnam the year before and lost in action. Practically penniless, Sarah Ann refuses to sell the lobster boat her husband named for her—the family's one valuable possession—and instead scrapes by working at a local supermarket. Alone in their trailer after school each evening, the children are visited by Santa's surly specter: a beer-guzzling, B.O.-ridden ghost who camps out in their recliner to watch afternoon soap operas and showers in vain to remove his otherworldly stench. Sleighless and no longer capable of bringing physical gifts to the world's children after an unfortunate collision with the Hoover Dam, Santa's spirit enlists Will and Lila to help spread Christmas dreams with their dad's old boat and confront their own loss. Free of the usual holiday sugar overdose, Preston's inventive, droll story was originally written for a friend who was dying of breast cancer; a portion of the book's proceeds will go toward cancer research. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/17/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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