Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children. Following the models set in lauded tales from A Christmas Carol to Mary Poppins, the four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. Replete with a tongue-in-cheek glossary and bibliography, this hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children’s literature
1) Lemony Snicket wrote up The Willoughbys in Publishers Weekly, and the phrase “fawned over” doesn’t even begin to describe his review. The worst he could say about a book where the parents are trying to rid themselves of their four children and vice versa? “There are those who will find that this novel pales in comparison to Ms. Lowry’s more straight-faced efforts, such as The Giver. Such people are invited to take tea with the Bobbsey Twins.”
2) For those with ADD looking for a good read, The Willoughbys has been reviewed in Haiku:
As if I needed
more reasons to heart Lois
Lowry. Wicked, droll.
3) Gift cards are so impersonal–give the gift of The Willoughbys instead! As Bookami reports: “As a former bookseller, it pains me to apply the description of ‘for all ages’ to any book, but in this case it is warranted. My five-year-old thought it was terribly funny when Tim put his sister Jane in the corner, but I loved when Mrs. Willoughby cut off all of the abandoned baby’s curls to make it less cute. We both liked how Barnaby A and B had to share the same sweater. I’m even sure that my grandmother would love this book. ”
4) This is a great read-aloud book. An Amazon reviewer writes: “My daughters, ages 9 and 7-1/2, enjoyed this book a lot. It’s a pretty quick read and is completely tongue-in-cheek. If your kids have a fair sense of reality versus falsehood, then the fact that the kids in this story are actually trying to become orphans will not be lost of them. The story’s definitely a satire and will be over the heads of some young ones, but I had a great time dressing up the dialogue with specific voices for each character.”
5) If you are fluent in Korean, you are so in luck! Lois Lowry writes on her blog: “[T]he Korean rights to my book The Willoughbys have been sold. My dry-cleaning lady will be pleased; I always give her copies of my books in Korean, for her extended family. It doesn’t get me a discount on dry cleaning but it does guarantee a cheerful ‘good morning.'”
The Willoughbys, although perfect for all ages, has an age range of 9-12 attached to it by the publisher. What do they know?