Marjorie Hakala's Reviews > The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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Apr 05, 08

Read in April, 2008

I remember being told, perhaps six or seven years ago, that Europeans considered America to have no proper sense of irony. Things have changed since then to such an extent that our even our eight-year-olds can understand a well-aimed dry parody. Or at least I hope so, because otherwise there will be no audience for this remarkable little book. Lois Lowry, a master of children's literature in deadly earnest ( The Giver frightened me to death, and remembering it still does) has produced The Willoughbys, which is lighter than air and run through with a wicked sense of humor. I laughed out loud reading this and would probably quote the whole book at you if given the chance, but here's a random selection:

"The nanny turned and looked at them. Wearing her flowered apron, she was standing at the stove, stirring the oatmeal with a wooden spoon.

"'I have fumigated my room with insecticide,' she told them. 'On the count of three, pinch your noses. Like this.' She demonstrated, pinching her own nose with her left hand while she continued to stir with her right. 'One. Two. Three.'

"The Willoughby children, startled by her command, all pinched their noses.

"She looked at them. 'Good,' she said. 'Now do that when you walk past my room. Otherwise you will breathe in phenolmethylcarbamate, and then you will die horribly. Writhing in pain.'"
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