Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The Willoughbys is a delightful little book by the ingenious Lois Lowry. I first came across it while browsing in a Scholastic catalog. The cover alone was enough for me to put it on my to be read list.
The Willoughbys are old fashioned children trying their best to become old fashioned orphans. Lowry pokes fun of classic chidren's literature by drawing on common elements to create absurd situations in her latest novel. I read this book on a plane ride (finishing right as we landed) and noticed myself laughing out loud several times. A few favorite parts include the Willoughby's reaction to a baby being left on their doorstep and Tim's (the eldest) cleverly devised games.
Lowry's word choice is delightfully old fashioned and sophsitcated. She provides a kid-friendly glossary at the end, which was a pleasure to read. There are always those words that you know the meaning of... but could never explain. Examples include: obfuscate, odious, irascible, and lugubrious. Beautiful words we don't hear very often.
In addition to the glossary Lowry includes a bibliography of all the books she references in The Willoughbys. My favorite was her description of Little Women:
"Sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy live with their mother, whom they call Marmee, while their father is off in the Civil War. They have many adventures and some misfortunes. Meg is mature and sensible. Jo is literary and boyish. Amy is vain and foolish. Beth is saintly and dies."
How matter of fact. I love it.
Recommendation: Do read it. You'll find yourself chuckling along.