Title: The Willoughbys
Author: Lois Lowry
Illustrator: Lois Lowry (Yeah, she wrote and drew the pictures.)
Published: 2008 (to my surprise, since it seems so old fasioned.)
Pages:157 (175 if you include the cute glossary and the suggested reading list.)
Chapters: 22 (plus the glossary and the reading list makes 24.)
Pages per Chapter (on average): 7+
Date Started: Jan. 25-----Date Finished: Jan. 25
My Reading Speed: 175 pages a day, or 24 chapters a day
The Main Characters: The 4 Willoughby children, Tim, Barnaby A, Barnaby B (they're twins) and Jane, are mostly the main characters, and I suppose the story is also about the lonely Commander Melanoff, who lives in the mansion nearby.
My Brief Synopsis: The Willoughbys are a very normal and old-fashioned family, and the kids imagine it would be fun to be orphans like their favorite story book characters. Their parents are quite mean and uncaring, so it isn't any surprise. At one point a baby girl is left on the Willoughby doorstep and the kids want to keep it, but the mother won't allow it, so the children in turn leave it at the Melanoff Mansion. Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby take off on a dangerous vacation and leave the 4 children in the care of a nice nanny and for some reason try to sell their house so the children won't have anywhere to live. Meanwhile, Melanoff is a sad, messy man who made a fortune on a candy he invented. He's sad because his wife and son were supposedly killed in an avalanche. When he finds the baby, he cares for her and finds a reason to pick up his life again. He names her Ruth.
There isn't exactly any villain in this story, nor any real conflict. It's just a charming, old-fashioned style tale, like Mary Poppins or James and the Giant Peach.
My General Comments: Despite my expectations, this was a really sweet story. It feels just like a classic, but it was published recently, just last year. Very well written, and it's so short that, if I owned it, I would quite enjoy reading it again and again, because it's so good. Unfortunately, I don't own it. It's borrowed from the library. It's a good book to read to kids, but nice to read by yourself.
My Favorite Part: I like the parts with the baby Ruth in them. I love babies, and seeing how they're portrayed in books. Ruth is a cute baby.
My Favorite Things About the Book: It's short and simple. You can believe that the characters can be real and the things that happen are possible. It also has a very happy and satisfying ending, unlike Coraline. Also, the little references to other good, actually old fashioned books are cute. The Glossary and Bibliography are really good. Lois writes her own definitions for large words (kind of like Lemony Snicket) and summaries for old books that have similar plot elements to The Willoughbys.
A Personal Shout Out to Lois Lowry: Your book is so sweet. Before I saw when it was published, I was actually fooled into thinking that it was an old classic, because of the style in which you wrote. I really liked it. And your pictures aren't half bad either. They fit the book's style very well.
There is no Wikipedia article for The Willoughbys, but below is Lois Lowry's website:
What is your favorite part? If you haven't read this book, sorry for all the spoilers, but you can comment and say if this book review was helpful. If you have read this book, please give me a comment or email me so we can discuss it. This would be the closest I've ever gotten to a book club, you know.