The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry

Hardcover, 137 pages
Available at the Corvallis Public Library in Hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats
Recommended for: Fans of classic children’s literature, Lemony Snicket’s novels, Roald Dahl, and irony.the willoughbys

For those who have grown up with books such as The Secret Garden, Little Women, and Pollyanna on their shelves, The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry, will be a charming and refreshing surprise. For those who haven’t, it serves as a wicked introduction to the genre of classic children’s literature, and will win kids and adults alike over with its wit and humor.

The story stars four young siblings, their incredibly capable nanny, the hilariously horrid globe-trotting parents who have abandoned them, and a reclusive chocolate making genius. Lowry, who is known for her more controversial works (The Giver and Number the Stars among them), parodies the tropes of children’s literature. She starts with the idea of the well meaning, deserving orphan, and works her way down. Her work makes for a clever, uproarious read, exhibiting a brand of humor that can be appreciated at any age. Squeaking in at a brief 137 pages, the novel goes by quickly, and has the kinds of characters and narrative that makes it an excellent option for reading aloud.

I would gladly recommend this to any reader who enjoys humor, adventure, twists, and turns. The children are resourceful, the villains are ghastly, and the conclusion is heartwarming. What more could a reader ask for?