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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Small bits of history and trivia throughout.
Money doesn’t guarantee happiness. The way you treat other people can have lasting impact, so choose your actions wisely.
Positive Role Models
Most adults try (in their own ways) to help the kids, and the older Willoughbys are funny examples of how not to treat other people.
Products & Purchases
Specific brands and toys mentioned repeatedly but as part of character development and personality, not an endorsement.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several mentions of an adult drinking too much.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Willoughbys Return, the second book in Lois Lowry's darkly funny series, pokes fun at the predictability of traditional children's books while showing heart for those down on their luck. The humor might not be to everyone's taste; deeply empathetic readers might not enjoy the lonely rich children, desperately poor children, offhand comments about a drunk parent, and parents who are terrible either because they're awful human beings or just hapless. But Lowry's description of one family's poverty is so over the top that it's funny, offering a great example of how biting humor can be a rich, complex way to tell a story.
Is It Any Good?
Dark humor reigns supreme here, with witty descriptions, delightful wordplay, and a predictable plot with deliciously outlandish characters. The Willoughbys Return is a fun twist on traditional children's books where troubled families and kids solve problems and everything wraps up nicely at the end. Author Lois Lowry's families are troubled in outlandish ways and take oddball steps to solve problems that are of their own making. The constant stream of product information from Richie's mouth is a bit much, an excess equaled by Mrs. Poore's cheerful resignation to a life of squeezing lemons three times and sweeping with a broom with only a few pieces of straw left. Mr. Poore's references to inebriation seem a bit out of place, but in a story that features defrosted, insufferable parents and a ban on candy, all the characters and weird plot points fit right in.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.