The Willoughbys

Book review by Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
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Common Sense says

age 9+

Darkly funny parody of old-fashioned kids' books.

Parents say

age 8+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+

Based on 5 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 8+

lots of fun; wonderful words

While I agree that dark humor is not for every child, classic fairytales frequently feature parents and children at odds, so this plot point is not extraordinary within children's stories. And Lois Lowry does subtle darkness with humor, high literary quality, exciting plot twists, unlikely connections, and lots of references to other classic children's literature. I read this aloud to my 6, 8 and 11 year old children and they all loved it. (Some details had to be explained to my 6 year old, which is why I recommend this for 8 and up, but he enjoyed it nonetheless and was exposed to excellent language along the way. He tells us he's feeling lugubrious now when he doesn't get his way.) The glossary and bibliography at the end are appreciated. My 8 year old wants to read every book in the bibliography that she hasn't already read. Definitely recommended to fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but this also makes a great family read aloud. Caregivers can explain some of the text-to-text connections and unfamiliar words, and children will excitedly offer predictions, laugh out loud at the unlikely coincidences and plot twists, and beg to read the next chapter until the very end. Highly recommended.
age 9+

Ironic humor

Indeed, the main characters seem like terrible role models, and their parents are even worse, but it's all in good fun. This book is ideal for readers familiar with fairy tales and Victorian / gothic melodrama, and who are able to understand that the author is making light of serious, traditional adventure stories. For well-read families who love ironic humor, this is a must-read.

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