cover image Christmas Spirit: Two Stories

Christmas Spirit: Two Stories

Robert Westall. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31260-2

Vicarages, silver sixpences, ``the banked sleekness of chestnuts'' and good-hearted ghosts are among the trimmings that give these posthumously collected stories their old-fashioned charm. In ``The Christmas Ghost,'' a boy delivering a dinner pail to his factory foreman father sees an apparition; his father scoffs, but the boy's willingness to believe his own vision averts a full-scale catastrophe. ``The Christmas Cat,'' set, like the other story, in England between the wars, an upper-class 11-year-old spends Christmas with her bachelor uncle, and his small-minded, mean-spirited housekeeper. The Carnegie Medal-winning author can be trusted not to overdo the sentiment and, like a good gingerbread, both tales have sweetness, spice and bite. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)