Friday, March 21, 2008

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

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


The CIP summary is hidden to prevent possible spoilers. If you'd like to read this brief summary, just highlight it using your cursor and it will magically appear in the following lines.

CIP Summary: In this tongue-in-cheek take on classic themes in children's literature, the four Willoughby children set about to become "deserving orphans" after their neglectful parents embark on a treacherous around-the-world adventure, leaving them in the care of an odious nanny.


Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 174 pages

32 comments:

Mary said...

If you're looking for another Number the Stars or The Giver, this is NOT the book you want to read. But if you're looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud with its irreverent humor, I highly recommend this title. (And be sure to read the glossary and the bibliography!)

Genie said...

I have tried for several days to get into this book and I can't do it. I usually love Lois Lowry's books but the humor is just too stupid for me. Kids pretending to be lamps and rugs while the realtor shows their house to possible buyers, please. And, I just hate to read about mean parents. I do have to say though I liked the nanny.

Heather said...

This is the best children's book that I have read in a long time. It is old-fashioned and familiar and yet spunky and new all at the same time. Lowry is brilliant!
The orphans are fantastic, the adults are real and complicated and the villains get their due, what else can you ask for? You can ask for an alabaster nanny statue, that's what - and you'll get it! This title is smart and super funny.

Genie said...

I think this is just a rip off of the Series of Unforunate Events. I liked the Series of Unforuante Events but I don't think Lowry has the right writing style to make a story work like Lemony Snicket did. I just don't think this is an example of Lowry's best work. I loved the Giver. It was a story I have never forgotten. I hope I soon forget about Willoughbys.

Mary said...

I love it when readers feel passionately about books, and it makes for a interestingly full conversation as well. I hope more people read and offer their opinions.

Heather said...

I LOVE the Series of Unfortunate Events too!
I think that Lowry has written a fantastic parody of Snicket's books, The Penderwicks, Mary Poppins,, etc.
I want to go back and read (or re-read) all of the titles listed in the bibliography and then re-read The Willoughbys.
I haven't been this excited about a book in a long time! I can't wait to hear/read what others think.

Genie said...

I just had a chance to read the review of this title in the School Library Journal (April 2008). This review said what I was trying to say but didn't know how to say it, "characters emotionally distant." I just have a hard time with books when I feel like I don't really know the characters. So, if you get a chance take a look at this review.

Jen said...

I can't wait for my book to come in!

Jen said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVED this book! I picked a dud for my adult book discussion group, and now they're reading this book too so we have a fun book to fall back on when we've tired of our other novel!

I can see why Lemony Snicket was asked to review it, but I really think this novel stands on its own. Smart, sassy, and utterly hilarious.

Mari said...

I thought this was an enjoyable book but not Newbery-worthy. I am glad to have something to give to fans of Snicket.

Michal said...

I enjoyed this book. I will have to admit it was a little difficult for me to ease into, but after I did I couldn't put it down. I thought it was creative, witty, and fun. I love the hints you can connect the story to so many others. I also enjoyed the glossary at the end to explain the big words used.

marra said...

Looooooooooooooved it. Pitch perfect. Here is my thinking: why isn't it Newbery worthy? Because it didn't make me cry and it wasn't "serious literature"?? This proved to me that Lowry knows her children's literature, and what fun is a genre if it can't poke a little fun at itself.

Clare said...

I loved this book. It was a little Snickety, but I think that is why I liked it. I agree with Michal on the subtle reference to other stories, cute!

Jill said...

I was afraid this book was going to be a little too predictable for me...especially when the first reference to Baby Ruth was made. But Lowry threw me for a loop in the end! All in all, I really enjoyed this story!

Kris said...

Loved it, loved it, loved it! Can't wait to read it again....and I agree with Marra, why can't a smart, clever book win the Newbery?

Jacquie said...

Thumbs up from me! This book made me laugh out loud - twice in the glossary! I recommended it to my kids. I will read it again, maybe even buy it (GASP!)

Anonymous said...

I really liked this book also. I agree that it was somewhat like the Lemony Snicket books, but I could not get into those. I fell in love with The Willoughbys though. The book makes readers feel smart when they recognize all the references to other stories. It was smart and witty, but some readers will have to be in the right mood to thoroughly enjoy it.

Molly said...

I really enjoyed this one! I was surprised, since I've never been a fan of The Giver (gasp!, I know) but, as others have mentioned this book and Lowry's previous novels bear little resemblance, other than the fact that they challenge rather than degrade their young audience.

Also, the audio book is tremendous. Truly, this is a case of the reader completely fitting the book.

DaNae said...

I read this to my fifth graders, and it was received with jubilation. They especially liked the glossary.

pianolibrarian said...

This book really showed Lowry's versatility as an author. She can take on such serious topics as socialism and the holocaust, but she can also give us a delightful romp of a story. The beauty of this story is that is so unrealistic. Kids love over-the-top silliness, and this is a book that delivers.

Michele said...

Clever and fun to read. I definitely enjoyed it, and would recommend it, though it didn't necessarily rock my world. I'm all for mixing it up when it comes to what defines "Newbery quality", but I don't know that the humor and cleverness of this novel were groundbreaking enough for me to put it in serious contention.

Teresa said...

Well, I read it. Not a Newbery contender as far as I'm concerned. I imagine she had a lot of fun writing it.

Annie R. 12 yrs old said...

Hey, this is an awesome book! If you are looking for a lighthearted story about crazy kids, here it is. Just imagine silly children dressing up as furniture to hide from the realtors. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Heather said...

Reading Has the Newbery Lost Its Way? on the School Library Journal website reminded me of The Willoughbys, which is still one of my favorites for the Newbery this year.

So, why can't a smart, clever, fun book win the Newbery???

Teresa said...

A smart, clever fun book can win. But, I didn't think this book was that fun. Clever, I will agree.

Mary R. 10 yrs old said...

I thought this book was unrealistic and silly, so I loved it. I thought it was not Lowry's best work. I don't think Lowry is capable of writing silly stories well.

Lisa said...

Somehow I had missed details about this book -- so imagine my surprise when I first began to read it. It took me awhile to realize it wasn't serious, then a little bit longer to warm to the idea. By the middle of the book I was laughing so hard my 12 year old son wanted to know what was so funny. I told him a little bit about it and then we started the book over together by listening to the audio version. It turned out to be one of the silliest and most fun books I have ever read.
I can't wait to start giving it to patrons. It has definite tongue in cheek kid appeal, lots of humor and alot to talk about. I also believe it is well written and certainly has literary merit. But, I will stop short of calling it my Newbery pick. The lack of character appeal and depth may have something to do with that -- although I think the fun of the story would very possibly be ruined if the characters were more appealing or even more real to the reader. Part of the fun for my son and I was to talk about how awful the "ruthless" Willoughbys are!

Wendy said...

To be honest, I thought this book was pretty bad. It felt slapped together and mean-spirited. Lowry has an excellent sense of humor--the Anastasia books, for instance, are hilarious--but I found nothing to like in this book. I'm not against parody, and I think it would be great for a funny, clever book to win the Newbery--but this isn't that book. It goes for shallow laughs.

kayaklibrarian said...

Loved this book. Very clever. All the kids in my library want to read it now, and that is the sign of a good book.

kmg365 said...

Hated it. And not because I'm not a fan of this type of book. I loved the Lemony Snicket books (well, until The End, when it all fell apart), so I think I know what Lowry was going for here. I simply think she failed utterly. For ME to label something mean-spirited is a pretty rare thing, as no one appreciates sarcasm and spoof more than I do, but that's the primary impression I took away from this. Nary a chuckle. Okay, maybe one chuckle.

Kayakgirl said...

Although I think "Trouble" was the best book of the year, I would give "The Willoughbys" my vote for the Newbery and "Trouble" would get the Printz.
This is a laugh out loud, kid friendly book. My students in the library have all loved this book.
It is deserving of the medal.

art4jewel said...

This book was so entertaining and hilarious. I'm not sure if younger kids could understand everything, but it was a great read. I would recommend this book for middle school students or higher.

I was pleasantly surprised at the uniqueness and how different this book is compared to others. It was refreshing!

Bravo! :)