The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys

eBook - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2008
ISBN: 9780547345055
Characteristics: 1 online resource (174 pages) : illustrations


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 10, 2014

YA with good sense of humor

Jun 25, 2013

This is a witty, clever and good-natured satire on dire and tragic 19th-century children's books, with a little bit of an edge. Recommended for fans of Lemony Snicket.

Cdnbookworm Feb 11, 2013

This classic children's tale is great fun. As the cover states, it is "nefariously written and ignominiously illustrated" by Lowry.
It is a book about a family of old-fashioned children, who try to plan their lives differently. When their parents go off travelling and hire a nanny to look after them, things do go differently, but not in the way they imagined. The book is a very tongue-in-cheek send-up of those classic children's books, in a very amusing style. Full of nice big words, interesting characters and with the requisite happy ending, this will keep the reader entertained throughout. A glossary is provided.

Jun 19, 2012

kinda weird but cute!!

Donnalee Smith May 14, 2012

This book was an unexpected, creepy little treat. Lois Lowry is well-known for her serious fiction like "The Giver" and "Number the Stars" but this book is reminiscent of Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket. It is full of very dark humour and it is a macabre story about a family who set out to emulate the familes from many classic children's books by becoming deserving orphans. The story is fast-paced and easy to read and will appeal to anyone with a somewhat twisted sense of humour. Not everyone will like this story, but those who do may like it a lot.

Robynpuff79 Dec 14, 2011

Very funny book. I would recommend it to readers of the Series of Unfortunate Events books.

Nov 15, 2011

Such a cute story!

sit_walk Nov 14, 2011

Crazy, wild book, very funny, reminiscent of Roald Dahl (a bit). Read it with my seven-year old and he loved it. Then he went back and re-read it twice himself. It's that good!

LocketLibrarian Mar 05, 2011

Fabulous satire and an excellent recommendation for good readers. I truly laughed out loud at how ludicrous the children's plans became. Hopefully young readers will be in on the joke as well.

Aug 17, 2010

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.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
White_Bat_15 Dec 18, 2011

White_Bat_15 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 5

Jun 04, 2008

christieb thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 12


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at VPL

To Top