Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Willoughbys

A quick read, The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry is entertaining and chock full of "old-fashion." Lowry alludes to well known stories of the past such as Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden and Pollyanna as she tells the tale of an odd couple, their 4 "old-fashioned" children, an old man and a baby. The pages are full of "old-fashioned" words: fortuitous, ignominious, glutinous, bilious, and my favorite, lugubrious. Aside from the vocabulary, which I was able to navigate with the help of Lowry's glossary of terms, the story was simple, familiar and predictable. The term parody fits the tone of this book perfectly. From the failed "Little Ruthie" candy bar, to the awful German the young boy uses ("Ach. I forgotzenplunkt. Sorrybrauten."), this story may not be as amusing to a fifth grader as it was to me. A useful biography of the "old-fashioned" stories is helpful for younger and less versed readers as they attempt to understand the references used by the characters in the book.
While I would recommend The Willoughbys, it may prove disappointing and seem very different for fans of Lois Lowry's more serious titles. Overall, this was a great read for a blustery, winter recess!