WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The old-fashioned children of old-fashioned books are always two things. First, they are always worthy of their lot. Second, they are always – always – orphans. The Willoughby children have the first requirement properly checked off; the second, however, is a bit more complicated.
Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby are exhausted grownups who cannot be bothered with children. Therefore they find it quite bothersome that they should have four of their own. It’s no matter, that can always be rectified.
The mansion on the other side of town has been rotting for years as its sole inhabitant, Commander Melanoff, grieves the loss of his wife and child. His loneliness is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of an orphaned baby girl, soon to be followed by many more unexpected visitors.
WAS IT WORTH THE READ?
True to her style, Lois Lowry has produced another children’s book that can only be called “odd.”
Maybe I’m still traumatized by Lemony Snickett and those poor Baudelaires, but it took several chapters before the humor of The Willoughbys set in. Children who despise their parents and plot their demise, parents who plot to leave their children homeless and profit of the consignment of all the leftover clothing – I wish I could have seen my own confused face for those first few pages!
The cast of characters range from ridiculous to equally-if-not-more-ridiculous. Icons such as the no-nonsense (but actually loves nonsense) Nanny, the grizzly curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and the long-lost son are a few of the beautifully crafted spotlights. Classic themes like rags-to-riches and finding love after loss are blown completely out of proportion by the books end. I smiled (almost) all the way through and, if charming children’s books are your thing, you probably will too.
Over all The Willoughbys is a three out of five. This little book is packed full of parody, reference to some truly classic works, but wit that might pass over the heads of younger readers. It was an amusing afternoon read, one that I plan to add to my shelves at home.
If you read The Willoughbys and like it, or your looking for something else with the same spirit, check out the titles linked below!
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book One: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
- The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisin
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