Excerpt from The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Willoughbys

by Lois Lowry

The Willoughbys
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 176 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 176 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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Print Excerpt

1.
THE OLD-FASHIONED FAMILY AND THE BEASTLY BABY

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

The eldest was a boy named Timothy; he was twelve. Barnaby and Barnaby were ten-year-old twins. No one could tell them apart, and it was even more confusing because they had the same name; so they were known as Barnaby A and Barnaby B. Most people, including their parents, shortened this to A and B, and many were unaware that the twins even had names.

There was also a girl, a timid, pretty little thing with eyeglasses and bangs. She was the youngest, just six and a half, and her name was Jane.

They lived in a tall, thin house in an ordinary city and they did the kinds of things that children in oldfashioned stories do.They went to school and to the seashore. They had birthday parties. Occasionally they were taken to the circus or the zoo, although they did not care much for either, excepting the elephants. Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives. Occasionally she glanced at a magazine. The Willoughby parents frequently forgot that they had children and became quite irritable when they were reminded of it.

Tim, the eldest, had a heart of gold, as many old fashioned boys do, but he hid it behind a somewhat bossy exterior. It was Tim who decided what the children would do: what games they would play ("We’ll have a game of chess now," he occasionally said, "and the rules are that only boys can play, and the girl will serve cookies each time a pawn is captured"); how they would behave in church ("Kneel nicely and keep a pleasant look on your face, but think only about elephants," he told them once); whether or not they would eat what their mother had cooked ("We do not like this," he might announce, and they would all put down their forks and refuse to open their mouths, even if they were very, very hungry).
Once upon a time there was a family named Willoughby: an old-fashioned type of family, with four children.

The eldest was a boy named Timothy; he was twelve. Barnaby and Barnaby were ten-year-old twins. No one could tell them apart, and it was even more confusing because they had the same name; so they were known as Barnaby A and Barnaby B. Most people, including their parents, shortened this to A and B, and many were unaware that the twins even had names.

There was also a girl, a timid, pretty little thing with eyeglasses and bangs. She was the youngest, just six and a half, and her name was Jane.

They lived in a tall, thin house in an ordinary city and they did the kinds of things that children in old fashioned stories do. They went to school and to the seashore. They had birthday parties. Occasionally they were taken to the circus or the zoo, although they did not care much for either, excepting the elephants.

Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives. Occasionally she glanced at a magazine.

The Willoughby parents frequently forgot that they had children and became quite irritable when they were reminded of it.

Tim, the eldest, had a heart of gold, as many old fashioned boys do, but he hid it behind a somewhat bossy exterior. It was Tim who decided what the children would do: what games they would play ("We'll have a game of chess now," he occasionally said, "and the rules are that only boys can play, and the girl will serve cookies each time a pawn is captured"); how they would behave in church ("Kneel nicely and keep a pleasant look on your face, but think only about elephants," he told them once); whether or not they would eat what their mother had cooked ("We do not like this," he might announce, and they would all put down their forks and refuse to open their mouths, even if they were very, very hungry).

From The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. Copyright Lois Lowry 2008. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Walter Lorraine Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin.

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