Book Reviews

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Willoughbys
by Lois Lowry

The Willoughbys are an unhappy family of six. Timothy is the bossy eldest child, Barnaby A and Barnaby B are twins and the youngest is Jane, a shy girl. Their awful parents are trying to get rid of them and so the kids decide to try and get rid of their parents. Throw in a sweet nanny and a confectionary tycoon and you've got a great story.

It's a very tongue-in-cheek version of an old orphan story. Most of the parents portrayed in the story are indifferent to their children at best. It reminds me a lot of Snicket's series of unfortunate events. Lowry weaves good vocab words into the story and includes a glossary at the end, which defines the words in a funny way.

Here's one funny bit...

"Oh lovely," said nanny. "You are an old-fashioned family like us. We are four worthy orphans with a no-nonsense nanny."

"Like Mary Poppins?" suggested the man, with a pleased look of recognition.

"Not one bit like that fly-by-night woman," nanny said with a sniff. "It almost gives me diabetes just to think of her: all those disgusting spoonfuls of sugar."

From the Dust Returned
by Ray Bradbury

B.T. (aka Before Twilight) there were other vampire stories. This particular one is a collection of connected stories about the Elliotts, an Illinois family of vampires. The story is told through the eyes of Timothy, a 10-year-old mortal boy who was dropped off at the Elliotts house when he was a baby. The family includes Cecy, who sleeps eternally but travels about by possessing other people's bodies, Great Grandmère, Nefertiti's mummified mother and Uncle Einar, a jovial character who can fly.

The stories seem disconnected. They present interesting characters, but it seems like Bradbury never quite fleshes any of them out. I've really enjoyed some of his books, like The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, but this one didn't work for me. I never cared about anyone in the book.

The audiobook I listened to included an interview with Bradbury at the end. He talked about creating the characters based on his own relatives. Illustrator Charles Addams worked on an illustration inspired by the stories and later they became the basis for his creation The Addams Family.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

The Willoughbys sounds like a fun one, I think I'm going to check this one out and then give to my nephew and niece as a gift!

And I love Ray Bradbury, but I haven't read this particular collection of stories. What a shame that the characters weren't memorable or interesting enough!

Jenners said...

The Willoughbys sounds wonderful!! I'll have to look for it. I love the cover too.

And I'm a big fan of Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and read some of his short stories but never really read anything else by him.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Book Chick - I hate it when I'm disappointed by one of my favorite author's works. I develop such high expectations for certain authors and anything less than previous excellence can let me down.

Jenners - You've got to read Fahrenheit 451, it's fantastic. Dandelion Wine is great too.

Amanda said...

Oh hooray for the Willoughby's. Such good old-fashionedy childrens.

Amanda said...

I cannot believe I just added an apostrophe to that. FORGIVE ME.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ha, forgiven, and they are wonderfully old-fashioned.