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The Willoughbys Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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âShouldnât we be orphans?â one of the Willoughby children suggests one day. The four are, after all, part of an old-fashioned kind of family, and their parentsâwell, their parents are not all that one would hope for. Recalling literary heroes and heroines such as Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, and James with his giant peach, the Willoughbys concoct a diabolical plot to turn themselves into worthy and winsome orphans. Little do they know that Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby have already begun to formulate their own thoroughly despicable plan inspired by another favorite bedtime story: the tale of Hansel and Gretel...
Villains, benefactors, no-nonsense nannies, abandoned infants, long-lost heirs, and late-life romance all make their appearance along with the irrepressible Willoughbys as the Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry pays playful homage to classic works of literature in this hilarious and decidedly âold-fashionedâ parody.
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"The Willoughbys", though, scores high marks indeed for juggling all of the demands of flaunting convention while staying entertaining, amusing and edifying. The book is fun to read yourself or to have read to you, and I am assured that no actual children were harmed in its making.
The opposite end is inhabited by Colonel Melanoff, a billionaire candy maker. He is so depressed from the apparent death by avalanche of his wife and son that he does little but eats and sleeps. The Willoughby children end up changing his life in profound ways. The inspiration for this book (and the characters as well are classic (and also old fashioned) stories of orphans making good and villains getting their just reward. The characters are acting out the typical plot lines. I have not read the majority of the books that Ms Lowry includes (I was never a fan of Mary Poppins or Anne of Green Gables) but the meaning in the story can be understood without having read them.
Ms. Lowry uses direct and well-phrased language. A brief example:
"Let us turn our attention now to a mansion some distance away from the Willoughbys' tall, thin house. This is the Melanoff mansion, on the porch of which the Willoughby children had not long ago left a baby in a basket.
Mr. Melanoff - called Commander Melanoff for no particular reason except he liked the sound of it - lived in squalor. Squalor is a situation in which there is moldy food in the refrigerator, mouse droppings are everywhere, the wastebaskets are overflowing because they have not been emptied in weeks..."
I found the book a delight to read. I can't agree with other reviews who think The Willoughbys is unsuitable because the children want their parents dead. Obviously, they have not read the book. The parents are in the role of villain and the children make a well-times suggestion; the adults do the rest. I think that children, depending on their age, can be exposed to books that are not exclusively happy and upbeat (the ending of The Willoughbys, however, is certainly a happy one). Children are exposed to more bizarre stories on television. The book will probably be challenging for children (and some adults) on vocabulary alone. But Ms. Lowry comes to the rescue with an excellent glossary. This is a book that adults and children can enjoy.
But other than that gripe, the book was very enjoyable. I wished it was longer so that I could keep reading about them.
Everyone was viciously fun.