Abandoned by their neglectful parents to the care of an odious nanny, the four Willoughby children—Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and B, and their sister, Jane—attempt to fulfill their roles as good, “old-fashioned” children. Following the models set forth in lauded tales from A Christmas Carol to Mary Poppins, they hope to attain their proscribed happy ending, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. An unquestionably ruthless act sets in motion the events that lead to their salvation, and to happy endings for not only the four children but also their nanny, an abandoned baby, and a candy magnate and his long-lost son. Replete with a tongue-in-cheek glossary and bibliography, Lois Lowry pays playful homage to classic works of children's literature in this hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody.
About The Willoughbys Lois Lowry says, “I grew up on classic children’s literature, including fairy tales. So it has always permeated my consciousness. Somehow I was reminded of Hansel and Gretel, and the fact that their parents dropped them off in the woods intending that they die of starvation. Couldn’t do that in a book for kids today! I thought. Then, chuckling, I thought, Why not? And so I created the Willoughby parents, who go off on a lengthy vacation and then send the children a postcard saying, in essence: By the way, the house is for sale. When someone buys it, you will have to find another place to live. Leave your clothes—we might be able to sell them. “The Willoughbys is simply a spoof, or takeoff, on classic children’s literature of the past, with all its stock conventions—the orphans and villains and coincidences and long-lost heirs who turn up at the last minute.”
Lois Lowry is a preeminent voice in contemporary children’s literature, with a canon of more than thirty books for readers of all ages, including the Newbery Medal recipients Number the Stars and The Giver. Beloved by legions of adults and children, The Giver celebrates its fifteenth anniversary in 2008. Known for her versatility and invention as a writer, Lowry was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author for her lifetime contribution to young adult literature. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. Find out more about Lois Lowry and read her blog at www.loislowry.com.