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The Willoughbys

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  9,704 Ratings  ·  1,747 Reviews
The Willoughbys
Hardcover, 174 pages
Published March 31st 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lavender, Arpeggio, Noxzema
Recommended to Daisy by: Muphyn
This is one of the best things I've read all year. It is my new favorite book. So smart and funny, I read it with--I swear--a real smile on my face the entire time AND I laughed out loud. That might have had something to do with the small kitten I have who fell asleep upside down on my shoulder while I was reading it but not entirely. I want to own this book (mine came from the library) and to give it to everyone I know, especially any children I know. Hmm...
I was hooked when I read the author'
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
As a scholar of 18th and 19th century children's literature, I was immediately drawn to a book purporting to be a parody of "old fashioned" books. But I was unimpressed by Lowry's actual novel. Perhaps because I had in mind a definition of parody that means something beyond just a "funny" imitation; most parodies are written to ridicule or satirize the genre they imitate. Lowry's book doesn't imitate to critique, or to satirize. Or perhaps it is because Lowry's idea of "old fashioned book" is ju ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
As in all good old-fashioned stories, this one involves the four Willoughby children. There is Tim, the oldest, who is very bossy. Jane is the youngest and has a hard time sticking up for herself. And then there are the twins A and B. The children are essentially good kids, but their parents are the worst sorts. Negligent and wasteful, they concoct a plan to leave on vacation and sell their house while they're gone (hopefully ridding themselves of the children in the meantime). To the young Will ...more
A delightful and humorous tale of parents and their antics to rid their lives of their 4 children, an orphan left on the steps of a recluse baron, and a nanny who ties all things together.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird, middle-grade
What an odd little book. The Willoughbys is a sort of parody of "old fashioned" children's books. The children are hoping that their parents will be killed in a dangerous around the world trip, and the parents are hoping to sell the home out from under the children and have them cast out into the street before they return. There's also an abandoned baby, a wealthy benefactor, and a nanny who whips the children into shape.

It's impossible to read this book without comparing it to Lemony Snicket an
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
יש כמה הברקות פה ושם, אבל באופן כללי לא התרשמתי במיוחד.
Author Lois Lowry who gave us Number the Stars, The Giver, A Summer to Die and 30 + other children's stories has now given us The Willoughbys, a clever, tongue in cheek parody of "old fashioned" classic children's stories.
I loved the tag line for this book as soon as I saw it on the cover. "A novel nefariously written & ignominiously illustrated by the author." If that does not hook your attention then maybe the book description will: " 'Shouldn't we be orphans?' one of the Willoughby childr
Clare Cannon
Jun 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 10-12 years (mature readers)
Shelves: 08-12yrs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marjorie Hakala
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 Willou ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A silly parody of classic or "old fashioned" children's literature. Fun in it's way but not my favorite type of book as I like to disappear into the book, which requires a suspension of disbelief, and a parody is always reminding you that it is a story. I also have mixed feelings about this poking fun at my favorite books, although I am sure it is meant to be gentle and it is pretty funny, I feel a little bit made fun of myself. I will give it an extra half a star for the wholly delightful gloss ...more
Gülay Cansever
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
hikaye olsun, karakterler olsun çok ilginç bir kitaptı. biraz kötülük ve hainlik ama çokça sevgi ve iyilik olan bir eski aile hikâyesi. severek okudum. hem büyüklerin hem de küllerin okuması gerek diye düşünüyorum.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very cute!
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Not at all what I would've expected from Lowry. Personally, I'm a fan of many of the "old-fashioned" books that she parodied. This is a children's book (at least, it's shelved that way at my local library) but kids won't get many of the references or humor here, which means that it's really a book for adults masquerading as a children's book. When I first started reading, I felt it reminded me quite a bit of the Lemony Snicket books, so young readers might relate a bit more if they've read those ...more
Brooke Shirts
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
A rare misfire from Lowry -- this is a satire of various motifs found in "old-fashioned" kidlit: plucky sibling orphans, dastardly villains, prim nannies, long lost sons, babies left on doorsteps, etc. The premise and setup are good, but the characters -- especially the four Willoughby children -- come off as more caustic than funny. I think a lot of these jokes are going to wink straight over the heads of most kids, and some of them (such as the casual "girls are no good at anything" parody of ...more
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is exactly what the jacket blurb claims it is, "a clever homage to classic works of literature." With references to Heidi, the Bobbsey Twins, and James and the Giant Peach, Lois Lowry creates an old-fashioned tale of four children, hated by their parents, who follow the examples of storybook boys and girls to find a home for themselves.

In the hands of a writer less capable than Lowry, this book could have become a cheesy mess, but the story is delightful. I loved all of the asides and
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Highly imaginative adults and children.
Recommended to Lara by: Meagan's April pick
What a fun book! I would say the charm of the book is more in the winsome narration than in a page-turning plot or gripping characters. Great throw-back to silly literature like Roald Dahl. I loved that the characters all wanted to be winsome orphans. That was just like me. As a child always wanted to be tragically kidnapped or stricken down by a terrible disease.
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
This book was an odd one. Snarky children and a nanny. Off beat classic stories with a weird twist. Not really what I thought this would be.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
ספר מהנה ומצחיק. פשוט כיף.
Monica Edinger
Apr 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I was and am a BIG Lemony Snicket fan. And once I came across Edward Gorey in high school I was smittened too. I like Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and other snarky writers enormously. But for whatever reason, this book didn't provoke the same response from me as the works of those writers do. (Gorey's Hapless Child is my all-time favorite.) The Willoughbys was just...okay. (I keep going between two and three stars. Two for my personal response, three because I respect what the author is doing.)

Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lemony Snicket gave The Willoughbys a rave in Publishers Weekly, so I had to read this clever, slightly twisted children's book. I loved its offbeat take on "old fashioned stories" - the four children wish they were orphans, and their irritable parents wish they had no children (and can never remember the daughter exists). The humor is dry and I laughed out loud several times while reading this on an airplane, which kept waking up the guy sleeping next to me.

There are also lots of book reference
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This felt more like Roald Dahl than Lois Lowry... or rather more like Lois Lowry writing a great parody of Roald Dahl. Despite the meanness so many characters have at the beginning and the fact that it reads in a cartoonish way much of the time, the book did manage to make me feel for the characters at the same time. I really like how the characters kept hoping they'd have lives like the characters from famous books. I'm not sure whether it's enough for someone unfamiliar with the books mentione ...more
Lois! I had no idea you could be so funny! I am not a fan of The Giver and was hesitant to try this one, but it came highly recommended and rightly so! Charming and witty I basked in this clever and humorous homage to all those old-fashioned orphan books. I listened to this on audio book and my teenage daughter walked in to hear the last few chapters and joined in the laughter with me even though she knew nothing about the book. So much fun! I happily pass on the recommendation.
Stefan Bachmann
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This one's only about 140 pages so by the end it *might* feel a tiny bit fleeting and superficial. I don't think that's a bad thing at all, though. It's super fun to read and I lovvvved the black humor and the way some of the characters are really just horrible and hilarious. I wonder if there'll be a sequel. If so, I wants it.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book! It was really funny. I like how the author played with your expectations. Like with Baby Ruth. I think it would be good for anybody. All ages. There hasn't been a Lois Lowry book that I haven't liked! : D
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
It was interesting
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So Good!!!!!
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-finished
This book was fun and incredibly clever. she uses a lot of really great vocabulary and explains it all with a snarky glossary at the end of the book. It's a spoof of famous children's books involving orphans who "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." It felt a lot like reading a Roald Dahl or Lemony Snickett novel. I especially enjoyed the audiobook - he had great timing and expression. I would recommend reading this book first before allowing a child in elementary school to read it, as there ...more
Wesley Pena
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Reading this book seems like reading someone's private joke. You don't really get it, but you can tell that SOMEONE thinks it's funny. I say four stars because it did make me laugh out loud a few times, but that's not saying much (I laugh a lot). Most of the book is just a little odd, but I suppose when you're Lois Lowry you get to write what you want.
Kathy Worrell  ツ
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-books, fantasy

All's well that ends well.

Footnote: BEWARE: this story reveals spoilers to probably ten classic orphan novels; one that I am currently reading. (Little Women)

I was very disappointed in this author, spoilers are a huge pet peeve of mine.

Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've come to pick up any book by Lois Lowry and expect great things between its covers. But when I ran across The Willoughbys in the children's section of my library, proclaiming on its cover to be A Novel Nefariously Written and Ignominiously Illustrated by Lowry, I knew it wouldn't be as profound as her previous books I'd read, but I had a feeling it would still be something special.

With so many nods to orphan stories that have gone before it that Lowry must feel a bit like a bobblehead, The
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Taken from Lowry's website:
"I’ve always felt that I was fortunate to have been born the middle child of three. My older sister, Helen, was very much like our mother: gentle, family-oriented, eager to please. Little brother Jon was the only boy and had interests that he shared with Dad; together they were always working on electric trains and erector sets; and later, when Jon was older, they always
More about Lois Lowry...

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“Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives.” 23 likes
“We are four worthy orphans with a no-nonsense nanny."

Like Mary Poppins?" suggested the man, with a pleased look of recognition.

Not one bit like that fly-by-night woman," Nanny said with a sniff. "It almost gives me diabetes just to think of her: all those disgusting spoonfuls of sugar!”
More quotes…