The Willoughby’s are an old-fashioned kind of family. The four Willoughby children do things old-fashioned children do; they go to school, they live in an old house, and they read books about other old-fashioned children in which most of them have no-nonsense nannies, find babies in baskets, have rich parents in a mansion, or no parents at all.
The Willoughby children decide that, yes, they should be orphans and make their way in the world like so many other old-fashioned children have in books. No, they do not like their parents very much. While scheming to somehow get rid of their parents, little do they know that their parents have a plot to get rid of their children at the same time.
The whole book was tongue-in-cheek, and more hilarious than I can even say! Many people compare the style of the story to Lemony Snickett, but I thought The Willoughby’s was far funnier. Would it actually bother you that the parents don’t like their own children? Or that they attempt to get rid of them? It shouldn’t; this book was much too hilarious to read into the actuality of orphan-hood.
The narrator was very good; not so much the voices he gives the characters, which are relatively limited, but he has a way of stating the funniest sentences in a matter-of-fact way, the very way the children do when they are trying to be serious and don’t think themselves very funny at all.
Last note: there is a lot of humor that would fly way over young children’s heads, and arguably, the entire concept of the book. Would a 6 year old find the idea of parents wanting to get rid of their children, or children praying death omens over their parents head funny? It could be taken way too seriously by some. Kids who like old-fashioned kinds of stories will appreciate it.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Audience: 8 and up