Beloved author, Lois Lowry, offers a modern tale with a twist of classic children s literature.
Abandoned by their ill-humored parents to the care of an odious nanny, Tim, the twins, Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and their sister, Jane, attempt to fulfill their roles as good old-fashioned children. Following the models set in lauded tales from "A Christmas Carol" to "Mary Poppins", the four Willoughbys hope to attain their proscribed happy ending too, or at least a satisfyingly maudlin one. However, it is an unquestionably ruthless act that sets in motion the transformations that lead to their salvation and to happy endings for not only the four children, but their nanny, an abandoned baby, a candy magnate, and his long-lost son too. This hilarious and decidedly old-fashioned parody pays playful homage to classic works of children's literature.
This strange little novel is a take-off on famous "orphan" novels such as Pollyanna, Oliver, James and the Giant Peach, and Hansel and Gretel. It is about a family of four children, including the eldest Timothy, twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and the youngest, Jane, and their parents. It is a twisted tale of parents ignoring their children and eventually trying to get rid of them, and children who dislike their parents so much that they wish they were orphans. The siblings are rather nasty to each other, (especially Timothy), but they stick together in their desire to rid themselves of their parents. The story involves the children finding a baby left on their doorstep and their parents refusing to take the baby in. The siblings then leave the baby on the doorstep of a miserly neighbor who lives in a rundown mansion. The baby changes the life of the neighbor, the parents go off on a round-the-world trip in an effort to rid themselves of their children, a nanny comes to take care of the children, and everyone's life changes for the better. It's Monty Python for children, with a dark side, so parents and teachers beware. References to other orphan stories appear in the text and may need some explanation for young readers. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.