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The Willoughbys are a pleasant, old-fashioned sort of family—except that Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby tend to forget that they have children, and get rather tetchy when reminded of the fact. So the Willoughby children—bossy Tim, sweet Jane, and twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B—decide that they really would be better off as orphans. That way, they would at least be assured an adventure or two. A baby left on the doorstep (and re-delivered to a neighboring doorstep) is the catalyst for a series of astounding coincidences, devious plans, and literary conventions turned upside down that make up author Lois Lowry’s sprightly tale. Other characters include a down-in-the-dumps candy bar tycoon (inventor of the delicious Lickety-Split), a no-nonsense nanny who scorns other no-nonsense nannies (like that “fly-by-night” Mary Poppins), and a lederhosen-clad lad who speaks very poor German (he just adds extra syllables “with a vaguely Germanic sound” to English words). The sly, winking tone that Lowry adopts on page one carries through to the utter end, meaning even her glossary of vocabulary words and bibliography of orphan literature are a rare and playful treat to read. Absurd humor with more than a dash of sparkling satire, The Willoughbys contains some of the most impish orphans out there.
posted Aug 17, 2010 at 11:38AM
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