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.
However, it is an unquestionably ruthless act that sets in motion the transformations that lead to their salvation and to happy endings for not only the four children, but their nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and his long-lost son too.
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.
Lois Lowry's The Willoughbys is the latest faux antique to hit your
quaint little bookshop's fusty shelves. To make sure the reader gets the joke,
Lowry's blast from the past includes pointedly charming retro pen and ink
illustrations; wavy old-fashioned fonts, and alliterative, adverb-laden diction
("A Novel Nefariously Written & Ignominiously Illustrated by the Author") ...
To be truly delectable, The Willoughbys must work for children who haven't read
Toby Tyler, Or, Ten Weeks with the Circus; Ragged Dick; Pollyanna; Heidi; or
The Bobbsey Twins and Baby May. It does. Despite Lowry's satiric
distancing and its jokes and puns, when the Willoughbys, homeless and hungry in
more ways than one, finally discover that they're valuable, worthy of
nourishment, and capable of bringing joy to grown-ups, we applaud. (Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Starred Review. [S]ly humor and a certain deadpan zaniness give literary conventions an ironic twist, with hilarious results.
Starred Review. Readers who are willing to give themselves up entirely to the sly foolishness will relish this sparklingly smart satire, which treats them with collegial familiarity. (snort-inducing glossary). Ages 9-12
Publishers Weekly - Lemony Snicket
Starred Review. Lowry, who casts her noble and enviable shadow wide across the landscape of children's literature, from fantasy to realism, here turns her quick, sly gaze to parody .... 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. Ms. Lowry and I will be across town downing something stronger mixed by Anastasia Krupnik, whom one suspects of sneaking sips of Ms. Lowry's bewitching brew.
[A] lollipop of witty metafiction...cunningly crocheted into a hilarious doily of drollery.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by leah gardner bad It was very goodbad. Yes I said it...goodbad. this is a new word meaning that this book is good but it has some faults to it that need to be fixed.
In The Willoughbys, the highest honor is to have a candy bar named after you, which
leads us to ....
Candy Bars, Fascinating Facts
Chocolate as a drink was a favorite of Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs.
Hernando Cortez brought the drink back to Spain in 1529. It remained a favorite
of the Spanish royalty for many years before being consumed widely throughout
It was not until three centuries later in England that chocolate was first used
as a non-liquid confection. The inventor of 'chocolate for eating' is unknown,
but in 1847, Joseph Fry & Son -- under the leadership of the original Joseph
Fry's great-grandson -- discovered a way to mix some of the melted cacao butter
back into defatted, or "Dutched," cocoa powder (along with sugar) to create a
paste that could be pressed into a mold. John Cadbury added a similar product to
his range in 1849.
By today's standards these original chocolate bars would not be considered very
palatable. The early eating bars of chocolate were made of...
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are at first optimistic--attending school is a welcome change for the book-loving trio, and the academy is allegedly safe from the dreaded Count Olaf, who is after their fortune.
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