Wednesday, March 11, 2020

37. The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys. Lois Lowry. 2008. 174 pages. [Source: Library][j fiction]

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a family named Willoughby: an old-fashioned type of family, with four children.

Premise/plot: Tim, Barnaby A, Barnaby B, and Jane Star in this tongue in cheek tribute to children’s books of yesteryear. Four children realize that they are so old-fashioned that they should really be orphans. Two parents realize that one fairytale had the right idea: Hansel and Gretel. It’s a race of sorts to see who will dispose of the other first.

The parents end up hiring an odious nanny (she’s really a hoot!!!) and taking off on a world wide trip packed with dozens of perilous potentially fatal adventures. They plan to sell the house—leaving their kids homeless. If the house sells, the nanny is instructed to not pack the kids clothes—they could be sold to a secondhand shop. Fortunately the nanny takes a liking to these quirky, devious children.

The book contains their adventures and misadventures.

My thoughts: I absolutely loved it the first time I read it. But the second time was a little less delightful. Some of the humor didn’t hold up to a reread, even though it was twelve years later. I think adults who love, love, love children’s literature, especially older books and series will find it charming and punny. I think children who are a bit precocious in their reading choices—I think MATILDA would have loved it, for example—may find it equally a joy.

Tim, to be fair, is insufferable. The parents are wrong about so very much...but insufferable does sum up their firstborn. 


© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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