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The Willoughbys Hardcover – March 31, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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From School Library Journal
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. Pre-order the official script book today. Kindle | Hardcover
More About the Author
A CONVERSATION WITH LOIS LOWRY ABOUT THE GIVER
Q. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
A. I cannot remember ever not wanting to be a writer.
Q. What inspired you to write The Giver?
A. Kids always ask what inspired me to write a particular book or how did I get an idea for a particular book, and often it's very easy to answer that because books like the Anastasia books come from a specific thing; some little event triggers an idea. But a book like The Giver is a much more complicated book, and therefore it comes from much more complicated places--and many of them are probably things that I don't even recognize myself anymore, if I ever did. So it's not an easy question to answer.
I will say that the whole concept of memory is one that interests me a great deal. I'm not sure why that is, but I've always been fascinated by the thought of what memory is and what it does and how it works and what we learn from it. And so I think probably that interest of my own and that particular subject was the origin, one of many, of The Giver.
Q. How did you decide what Jonas should take on his journey?
A. Why does Jonas take what he does on his journey? He doesn't have much time when he sets out. He originally plans to make the trip farther along in time, and he plans to prepare for it better. But then, because of circumstances, he has to set out in a very hasty fashion. So what he chooses is out of necessity. He takes food because he needs to survive. He takes the bicycle because he needs to hurry and the bike is faster than legs. And he takes the baby because he is going out to create a future. And babies always represent the future in the same way children represent the future to adults. And so Jonas takes the baby so the baby's life will be saved, but he takes the baby also in order to begin again with a new life.
Q. When you wrote the ending, were you afraid some readers would want more details or did you want to leave the ending open to individual interpretation?
A. Many kids want a more specific ending to The Giver. Some write, or ask me when they see me, to spell it out exactly. And I don't do that. And the reason is because The Giver is many things to many different people. People bring to it their own complicated beliefs and hopes and dreams and fears and all of that. So I don't want to put my own feelings into it, my own beliefs, and ruin that for people who create their own endings in their minds.
Q. Is it an optimistic ending? Does Jonas survive?
A. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending. I think they're out there somewhere and I think that their life has changed and their life is happy, and I would like to think that's true for the people they left behind as well.
Q. In what way is your book Gathering Blue a companion to The Giver?
A. Gathering Blue postulates a world of the future, as The Giver does. I simply created a different kind of world, one that had regressed instead of leaping forward technologically as the world of The Giver has. It was fascinating to explore the savagery of such a world. I began to feel that maybe it coexisted with Jonas's world . . . and that therefore Jonas could be a part of it in a tangential way. So there is a reference to a boy with light eyes at the end of Gathering Blue. He can be Jonas or not, as you wish.
Top Customer Reviews
As in all good old-fashioned stories, this one involves the four Willoughby children. There is Tim, the oldest, who is very bossy. Jane is the youngest and has a hard time sticking up for herself. And then there are the twins A and B. The children are essentially good kids, but their parents are the worst sorts. Negligent and wasteful, they concoct a plan to leave on vacation and sell their house while they're gone (hopefully ridding themselves of the children in the meantime). To the young Willoughbys' aid comes a nanny of remarkable talents, a rich but sad benefactor, and a host of odd characters. In the end a happy medium is reached and everyone is happy, though perhaps not in the way you might expect.Read more ›
The object of parody here is old-fashioned children's books. Accordingly, the titular Willoughbys are "an old-fashioned family," and constantly refer to themselves as such. The Willoughby children are Timothy, the bossy oldest child; indistinguishable twins who are both named Barnaby (referred to as "A" and "B"); and the overlooked youngest child, Jane.
"Shouldn't we be orphans?" Timothy asks one day. While they're not, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, unbeknownst to them, are about to abandon their children in a plot inspired by HANSEL AND GRETEL. But the Willoughby children are too busy doing all the things that an old-fashioned family should do to care very much. All the elements of old-fashioned children's literature are included in the plot. Abandoned baby in a basket? Check. Mysterious nanny? Check. Reclusive tycoon living in squalor? Check. Really bad fake German? Well...that might be a new one.
It's impressive how effectively Lowry pokes fun at literary clichés so widespread that most of us have never even thought about them. It had never occurred to me how prevalent some of the elements of classic children's literature are until I read THE WILLOUGHBYS, but once it did, I wondered why I'd never read a similar parody. Lowry gets plenty of jokes in while still keeping the plot moving, and the result is a fast, funny read.Read more ›
"'Oh, someone has left a beastly baby on our front steps,' Tim told her.
"'My goodness, we don't want a baby!' their mother said, coming forward to take a look. 'I don't like the feel of this at all.'
"'I'd like to keep it,' Jane said in a small voice. 'I think it's cute.'
"'No, it's not cute,' Barnaby A said, looking down at it.
"'Not cute at all,' Barnaby B agreed.
"'It has curls,' Jane pointed out.
"Their mother peered at the baby and then reached toward the basket of beige knitting that she kept on a hall table. She removed a small pair of gold-plated scissors and snipped them open and closed several times, thoughtfully. Then she leaned over the basket and used the scissors.
"'Now it doesn't have curls,' she pointed out, and put the scissors away.
"Jane stared at the baby. Suddenly it stopped crying and stared back at her with wide eyes. 'Oh dear, it isn't cute without curls,' Jane said. 'I guess I don't want it anymore.'"
At the conclusion of THE WILLOUGHBYS, author Lois Lowry provides an annotated bibliography of thirteen "books of the past that are heavy on piteous but appealing orphans, ill-tempered and stingy relatives, magnanimous benefactors, and transformations wrought by winsome children." These thirteen books possess an average publication date of 1913.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Charming, charming, charming! Arte Johnson is a fantastic reader for this funny and fun gem. If you want to read/listen to something that can make you chuckle and laugh out loud... Read morePublished 4 months ago by DC's Place
Wonderful book tailored to preteen audience, although as a 64 year old retired teacher, I too, thoroughly enjoyed it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Barry Marshall
We love this book! We read it! And then we listened to it!! Then we read it again...and listened to it again....you know where this is going! Read morePublished 5 months ago by ALV
A nice childrens story. Lois Lowry is
a very good writer. I have read most all
of her books and I am not a kid...just at heart
Love this book. Great for read aloud with kids. Little odd, but perfectly so.Published 7 months ago by Cheyenne Warthen
This has to be the funniest book i have ever listened to. Be sure to buy the audio book.Published 9 months ago by Kaye
I just finished reading this with my children. It's such a delightful story about an old fashioned group of kids and their terrible parents. Read morePublished 9 months ago by K. Spangler
I think older children may enjoy reading this. It was a little too much like a series of unfortunate events to me.. sad.Published 10 months ago by Sbee702