The Willoughbys - Lois Lowry

"Do you like our children?" "Oh, no," Mrs. Willoughby said, using her gold-plated scissors to snip off a bit of yarn that had made a snarl. "I never have. Especially that tall one. What is his name again?"

When I first started reading this to Robyn, we weren't really sure about it and just about gave it up, at least as a bedtime story. The first page and a half seemed amusing and clever and promising, but then in the rest of the chapter the Willoughby children turned out to be kind of spiteful and unpleasant. The parents (as you can see from the quote above) aren't much better.

But, fortunately, the story does pick up and turns into something quite delightful, as the Willoughby parents plot to get rid of their kids and the kids plot to get rid of their parents, and Nanny comes to take care of them. (There's also a side plot about the lugubrious candy tycoon who finds a baby on his doorstep, and of course eventually all the various threads tie up into a neat little package.)

It's a little bit like the Bastables by way of Lemony Snicket, four precocious kids dealing with outlandish adults (in this case, their parents). And at the end there's a helpful glossary, with entries like the following:

METICULOUS means extremely precise and careful. Surgeons have to be meticulous. Some people think great cooks are meticulous, but they are wrong. Great cooks read a recipe, maybe, but then they ignore the instructions and add extra garlic if they feel like it. Surgeons can't do that.

It's a short kids' book that plays around with the idea of "old-fashioned" stories, and is quite enjoyable after you get past the unpleasantness of the first chapter.

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 27, 2008 | Comments (0)


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