The Willoughbys

  • by Lois Lowry
  • Narrated by Arte Johnson
  • 2 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children.Following the models set in lauded tales from A Christmas Carol to Mary Poppins, the four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. However, it is an unquestionably ruthless act that sets in motion the transformations that lead to their salvation and to happy endings for not only the four children, but their nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and his long-lost son, too.This hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children's literature.


What the Critics Say

"This delightful story pulls in children and their parents for a great family listen." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unexpectedly delightful! A treasured keeper!

I didn't expect this book to be so incredibly funny and sardonically dark at the same time. Parody is an understatement of the way Lois Lowry takes some horrid element of almost every scary children's story and makes it just another thing the Willoughby children have to deal with in their everyday life. They beg their father to read to them. He reads from Hansel and Gretel and the children are sent to bed with the appalling feeling he has just gotten a good idea of how to get rid of them. The children find a travel agency that specializes in trips seemingly designed to kill off their clientele and make sure their parents get the brochure. When their parents take off on vacation, they put the house on sale and tell the children to hide in the coal bin when prospective buyers appear. Only the odious nanny the parents hires before they leave could possibly make a difference. And she does.
Since this is ostensibly a children's book, it is the right length to be re-listened to regularly, when you need a good laugh, a mental gear-switch, or an uplift of spirit.
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- Fay

Absolutely Darling

Delightful read for grade schoolers... who will expand vocabulary to include a wide variety of despicable words. Nice use of orphans from other fictional works starting with Anne of Green Gables, Heidi and Huck Finn that would provide a topic driven stream of books for a summer of reading. I nearly turned it off when it came to the dictionary of words at the end... glad I didn't as it is as fun to read as the book itself. Has Lemony Snicket feel but is a little less dark.
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- Jan "Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-29-2008
  • Publisher: Listening Library