The Willoughbysby Lois Lowry
The Willoughby's—Timothy; his twin brothers, Barnaby A and Barnaby B; and their little sister, Jane—are old-fashioned children who adore old-fashioned adventures. Unfortunately, the Willoughby parents are not very fond of their children, and the truth is that the siblings are not too keen on their parents either. Little do the Willoughby kids know that… See more details below
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The Willoughby's—Timothy; his twin brothers, Barnaby A and Barnaby B; and their little sister, Jane—are old-fashioned children who adore old-fashioned adventures. Unfortunately, the Willoughby parents are not very fond of their children, and the truth is that the siblings are not too keen on their parents either. Little do the Willoughby kids know that their neglectful mother and father are hatching an evil plan to get rid of them! Not to worry—these resourceful adventurers have a few plans of their own. But they have no idea what lies ahead in their quest to rid themselves of their ghastly parents and live happily ever after.
Gr 4-7- Timothy, twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and Jane Willoughby live in an imposing Victorian house. Their uncaring parents would like to get rid of them, and the feeling is mutual. The adults go off on vacation, leaving the young Willoughbys in the care of a nanny, and try to sell the house in absentia. This leads to some of the more hilarious moments as prospective buyers arrive and the children disguise themselves as lamp shades and coat hangers. The day a baby is left on their doorstep, events are set in motion that bring about some desired changes and an "all's well that ends well" resolution. Lowry continually reminds readers that the characters and events in this story are meant to recall those found in "old fashioned" children's books, a bibliography of which she includes at the end. The plot is understandably dependent on coincidence, but the ultimate effect is to render the characters emotionally distant, leaving readers with little empathy for them. However, the glossary of terms such as "lugubrious" and "obsequious" at the end of the book is absolutely choice, and Lowry's cover and interior illustrations show that she has an entirely untapped talent. Children will enjoy the story's absurd humor while adults may be put off by its dark elements. Lowry is never afraid to expand her boundaries as a writer, and this book, even if somewhat flawed, belongs in most collections.-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ
"The tone of this darkly dry pastiche is consistently witty, and it's chock-full of accessible parodic references to...classic children's texts...Lowry crafts a tidy plot."--The Bulletin, starred review
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.34(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.44(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Nanny and the Willoughbys were out for a walk.
This was something that old-fashioned families did from time to time, to expose themselves to invigorating fresh air. Nanny had donned her blue cape, which was the official uniform for nannies.
“Walk briskly, children,” said Nanny, “and swing your arms.” They did so.
“Skip, if you like,” Nanny said. “Skipping is very healthful.” “What is skipping?” Jane asked.
“Yes, what is skipping?” asked the twins.
“It’s like this, dolts,”Tim told them, and he skipped ahead of them to demonstrate.
“No more saying of the word dolt,” Nanny announced.“I dislike it.” “What about dodo?” Jane asked.
“Well, let’s allow dodo for now,” Nanny said after thinking it over. “If someone does something really stupid, it is permissible to call that person a dodo.
“And,” she added, looking at Tim, who had returned, “if you think that was skipping, you are a dodo.This is skipping.” She demonstrated, skipping to the corner of the block with her cape flying behind her. She turned and beckoned to the children, and each of them skipped toward her one by one. Nanny gave some further instructionsa little more left foot,Tim; no timidity, go flat out, A; good job, much better than before, B; and a pat on the back for Jane, who stumbled and skinned her knee but was heroically not crying.
Now, having walked for several blocks and skipped for the last one, the children found that they were on a familiar street.They had not been back to this street since the day they had trudged here hauling a wagon containing a basket with a baby in it. Tim nudged Barnaby A and nodded meaningfully toward the mansion that loomed ahead. Both of the twins gave nervous glances but then looked away and concentrated on remarks about the quality of the asphalt in the street and a particularly odd-shaped cloud in the sky. Jane fell silent and had a sad look. She had liked the baby, actually, though when its hair was cropped she had found it homely. From time to time she had missed it and wondered about it.
Nanny skipped ahead, not noticing that a hush had fallen upon the children.
“The windows are repaired,” Barnaby B pointed out in a whisper.
“And the cat has been fed,” his twin noticed. “It was thin before, but now it’s pudgy.” “Someone has mowed the lawn,”Tim observed.
“Shhhh,” said Jane suddenly. “I hear a giggle.” They stood still, the four of them, and after a moment Nanny returned. She had skipped the entire length of the block, assuming the children were behind her. Now she came back to see why they had stopped. “The important thing in terms of fresh-air intake,” Nanny said to them, “is continuity!
If you stop, you lose your continuity.Why ever are you standing about like dodos? You are breathing stagnant air.”
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