The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys
by Lois Lowry
MG fiction. 174 pp.
Houghton Mifflin. 2008.

flap copy:

"Shouldn't we be orphans?" one of the Willoughby children suggest one day. The four are, after all, part of an old-fashioned kind of family, and their parents—well, their parents are not all that one would hope for. Recalling literary heroes and heroines such as Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, and James with his giant peach, the Willoughbys concoct a diabolical plot to turn themselves into worthy and winsome orphans. Little do they know that Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have already begun to formulate their own thoroughly despicable plan inspired by another favorite bedtime story: the tale of Hansel and Gretel . . .

Villains, benefactors, no-nonsense nannies, abandoned infants, long-lost heirs, and late-life romance all make their appearance along with the irrepressible Willoughbys as the Newbery Award–winning author Lois Lowry pays playful homage to classic works of literature in this hilarious and decidedly "old-fashioned" parody.

I'm beginning to feel that you can't lose with a Lowry book. I've always enjoyed her writing. I find her to be insightful and well paced. This book is just as entertaining. I like the "old" feel to it. I like the dry, almost macabre, sense of humor to it. And really, who doesn't enjoy a book by an author who pens the following About the Author:
Influenced in her childhood by a mother who insisted on surrounding her with books instead of roller skates and jump ropes, Lois Lowry grew up lacking fresh air and exercise but with a keen understanding of plot, character, and setting. Every morning she opened the front door hoping to find an orphaned infant in a wicker basket. Alas, her hopes were always dashed and her dreams thwarted. She compensates by writing books. Today she is a wizened, reclusive old woman who sits hunched over her desk thinking obsessively about the placement of commas.

Definitely a quick and easy must-read.

note: This review sucks. I know that. But I finished this book nearly three months ago. And so whereas I remember fully enjoying it, I don't remember any particulars at this point. And there are eighteen more incomplete reviews in my draft folder. I know. It's a whole lot o' suckage. I intend to get caught up. Really.


chosha said...

It was good enough to make me curious to read the book, so not totally sucky. :)

It's such a fun premise - making themselves winsome orphans so as to bag a real family.

Th. said...


Awesome. Awesome cover, awesome premise. Sounds like my next Lois Lowry book.

eleka nahmen said...

Officially the best About the Author I've ever read. Kudos to Ms. Lowry.

B. E. said...

Thanks the blog. I just ordered the book from the library.

Genny said...

The cover looks like a tribute to Wolves of Willoughby Chase and the whole thing sounds like a Joan Aiken fanzine. Or like a more sophisticated version of Time Warp Trio's Summer Reading is Killing Me. Fasinating.