Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys caught my eye at the library. I think it might have even screamed at me somehow. The cover is perfectly charming, and, oh, the author's name! Lois Lowry. (Author of one of my favorites: The Giver.) I read the back flap:

Influenced in her childhood by a mother who insisted on surrounding her with books instead of roller skates and jump ropes, Lois Lowry grew up lacking fresh air and exercise but with a keen understanding of plot, character, and setting. Every morning she opened the front door hoping to find an orphaned infant in a wicker basket. Alas, her hopes were always dashed and her dreams thwarted. She compensates by writing books. Today she is a wizened, reclusive old woman who sits hunched over her desk thinking obsessively about the placement of commas.

Yes, indeed. The book was screaming personality. And it had to be next on the list of read-alouds.

Playing (and I do mean playing) off old-fashioned and well-known children's books, Lowry has created an unexpected masterpiece of humor. Witty, sarcastic, and downright irreverent, The Willoughbys delivers: an abandoned infant, villainous parents, adventure, orphans, tragedy, rich benefactors, and a nanny to boot. Do not read this book if you are in ill humor and ill-prepared to take a joke.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Levi and I love words. The cover of this book reads, 'A Novel: Nefariously Written & Ignominiously Illustrated by the Author.' Promising, yes? The book is complete with a glossary. Not just any glossary.

CONTEMPLATING means thinking about something very calmly and seriously. Sometimes you will hear the phrase 'contemplating your navel,' which of course means thinking very seriously about your bellybutton, and makes no sense at all, because what dolt would do that? There is a whole order of nuns, incidentally, called contemplative nuns. They spend all their time thinking very calmly and seriously, but not about their navels. Maybe nuns don't even have navels. There is no way to know.

You will have to read the book to find out the definitions of bilious, auspicious, winsome, surreptitious, obfuscate, and expostulation among others.

Do not miss this star of a book!


Precision Quality Laser said...

Oh I LOVE VOCABULARY WORDS! I definitely need to see if they carry this book at my library.

Bilious..just looked it up. Exactly what I thought based upon extracting the root word.

Auspicious...I know that one too! definitely have winsome boys!

Surreptitious...oh I love this one! My eighth grade teacher loved vocabulary words and we learned like five new ones each week. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of your readers will know this

Obfuscate...I'm so bewildered :)

Expostulation...some might loudly oppose so many vocabulary words in such a little book.

Thanks for the word fun!

Mrs Q

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book! I've checked and our library has it, and it's on my list. Thanks.

Elise said...

Hi Heidi

Sounds like a must read for me. I am going to check and see if I can get my hands on a copy. You never cease to amaze me with the wonderful treasures you find when you are at the library. Thank you for sharing them with us.


Jess said...

Hi! I just found your blog through Embejo, who i just found through Kate5Kiwi (who i know IRL!)
I have just sat for over 1/2 an hour reading and i am now in love with your blog! I will be visiting again! I love your creativity, your photos, your book reviews. Your boys are beautiful! Arn't boys fun? I had to little girls before my two boys and i have to say i did not know what had hit me when my boys came along!!! My hubby is one of three boys and they are all the best of friends, (now!)we actually choose to hang out with them! Enjoy those beautiful boys!!!

Blessed said...

this sounds like a "must read" thanks for pointing it out!

Skeller said...

Thanks! I'll definitely be looking for this at our library today :-)

Sarah said...

I'm a HUGE fan of Lois Lowry..this book is fantastic.

Aja Jenise said...

What a dashing little book... I will have to hunt this one down.

Thanks for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Read it. Loved it. Thanks.

Holly said...

I first heard of this book from you. I got it at the library and my 8 yr old read it, but my 11 yr old didn't. Then I found it on cd, also at the library, and we all listened to it in the van. It's so funny! We all liked it very much, and now my 11 yr old wants to read it!
Thanks! (I'm going to post about the book and link back to you.)