Cover Image: The Willoughbys Return

The Willoughbys Return

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Member Reviews

Just in time for Netflix's release of The Willoughbys, The Willoughbys Return is a sequel like no other. Rather than picking up at the end of the first book, this story takes place decades later. Now adults, the Willoughbys must deal with their own troubles and the return of their frozen parents. Full of laughter and excitement, this is a great read aloud for families and classrooms.
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We all know that Lois Lowry can write and has a flair for words. This book which is a sequel to her earlier publication with the same family, follows the adventures of oldest son Willoughby and his son, Rich. There are new and younger characters that this story focuses on and yet there is mention of Nanny and the trials that the Willoughby children had in the past. Lowry uses her command of the language to turn out some very fine vocabulary and fun though totally outlandish situations. At the onset candy is outlawed by dentists and the world is changed as well as the economics of the now grown Tim Willoughby. It is obvious that the neighbors named Poore are poor and that Rich Willoughby who lives in a mansion and has every toy imaginable is rich. I was very disappointed that Tim, Rich's father was not a better father, perhaps because he had such terrible role models of his own. But surely Nanny and the Commander must have made up for that. Rich gets things not time although he is cared for.  And worse, the Willoughbys never bothered to connect or help the Poores. Only due to a series of fantastic circumstances do the two families meet. Plus the science and logic totally ignored in the thawing of the parents is hard to swallow but not unlike Dahl's antics.  The 30 year time warp is a nice touch as is the antiquated encyclopedias. A little bit of everything thrown in. In the end, everything is tied up rather happily and quite easily due to fortunate events. The parents who were horrible in the first book have a bit of a reconciliation and their son, now grown, is without a doubt forgiving.  Obviously, this is not a realistic tale by any stretch of the imagination. The use of footnotes adds a lot of humor as well as information to the story.
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Even though The Willoughbys is an older book, I hadn't heard of it until it was reviewed on an episode of the Currently Reading podcast. I read it to my children in anticipation of The Willoughbys movie being released on Netflix. My kids and I loved it. When I saw its sequel available on NetGalley, I immediately requested it. I again read this one to my children (ages 10 and 12). They loved it as much as its predecessor. While I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first in the series, it's still a solid 4 stars for me. It was entertaining and even a little bit educational. I loved how all the pieces fit together at the very end of the story.
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I loved the first Willoughbys book and the Netflix  movie was cute too but the book was definitely better. 

I was delighted to learn that there was a sequel coming out and wanted to get my hands on it as soon as possible. 

The events in this book take place 30 years after the original book’s events. The Willoughby children are all grown up and have kids of their own. Their parents, who were frozen somewhere in the Swiss Alps are miraculously alive and thawed out by global warming. 

Timothy has a candy empire and in the beginning of the book we are told that all candy is to be banned by the govt. He is worried for his business. 

Also in the book are events surrounding Timothy’s son Richie and his interaction with the Poore children next door. 

I really enjoyed this book as it’s full of humor and  witty dialogue. It’s going to be a hit with kids everywhere like the original book. 

I would recommend it for kids as well as adults who enjoy some tongue in cheek humor. 

*Spoiler alert* I was sad to learn that nanny had passed away and was no longer in the book. She was my favorite character. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader’s copy for an honest review.
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The Willoughbys Return is a quirky story about a couple whom, due to their unpreparedness, are frozen in a Swiss mountain for 30 years only to thaw and return home. The storyline was a little difficult for me to follow, but I liked that the story ended happily. It was kind of a story of redemption.
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First sentence: The front page of the New York Times, on a Thursday in June: CONGRESS VOTES OVERWHELMINGLY TO BAN CANDY, CITES DENTAL HEALTH On the same day, on an inside page of a Zurich newspaper: AMERICAN COUPLE, FROZEN IN SWISS MOUNTAINS FOR THREE DECADES, THAW SPONTANEOUSLY, APPEAR UNHARMED These two events, it was later proved, were related. It’s complicated.

Premise/plot: It has been thirty years--give or take--since the events of The Willoughbys. In the first book, two dreadfully selfish parents freeze to death in the Swiss Alps, leaving their four children (Tim, Barnaby 1, Barnaby 2, Jane) orphans in the care of a nanny. It's a comic novel. It may sound completely odd and over-the-top...and it is...but it works. This sequel opens with startling and shocking news. First, ALL CANDY has been banned. This would be bad news to just about every household in America...but especially if your family's business is a candy factory. Tim Willoughby's business--which he inherited--is a candy factory. Second, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby find themselves unthawed and in a bit of a predicament. They are in a foreign country with soggy money and expired identification (and credit cards). They feel at a complete loss when interacting with the world. (Think Encino Man.) They return to the States...

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I don't know how it compares to the first. It is equally delightful perhaps but with a bit more sugary goodness perhaps. I really loved the chapters focused on the Poore family. I definitely got vibes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
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What a unexpected surprise of a story!  Meet the Willoughbys, in this one of a kind novel, and how they all react after their parents disappear and reappear after being frozen in the Swiss Alps for 30 years! Very interesting characters and quirky writing make this perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl, and Rebecca Stead!
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I was excited to read a new book by Lois Lowry. But that is where the excitement stayed. Perhaps if I had read the first book I might have enjoyed this better. The story is disjointed, the characters have too many flaws. The humor is sometimes funny, but I felt like a Lemony Snicket want a be was in the room. As an elementary librarian, I will not be looking to add this to my collection.
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A delightful sequel to The Willoughbys, The Willoughbys Return is a fun romp through puns, quips, and footnotes. The humor in the book is especially appealing to upper elementary and middle grade kids.  The theme of dumb adults vs clever kids provides a juxtaposition that kids this age will relate to. Placed 30 years in the future, this is (hopefully) a jumping-off story for future books about the other “orphans” in the Willoughbys family.
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I had been hoping beyond hope for more to this story and it is finally here. It was well done and I cannot wait to recommend this to my patrons.
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The Willoughbys are back, specifically the terrible parents, who have been frozen in a Swiss "alp" for thirty years (12 years in publication years) and miraculously thaw and make their way home. Their four kids are grown but might turn out to be forgiving of their past rottenness. This sequel is witty and cute but is lacking the wry Lemony-Snicketesque dark humor and charm of the first book. The introduction of a pathetic poor family with children next to the mansion where we left the Willoughby children in "The Willougbys," who are called the Poores, does not reclaim the magic, although it is funny that the when the mother is too perfectly righteous, like Marmee in little women, her daughter Winnifred invents the word "Marming" to describe her behavior.

The solution to everyone's woes is nothing like as adorable as Nanny sashaying over to the neighbor billionaire's house to invite herself and four children to move in. Nanny is dead, regrettably. She was by far the best character in the original book.

Much is made of the Willoughbys attempting to adjust to the digital age all of a sudden, which is sometimes funny and sometimes rather flat. Lowry tries to make the book educational like "The Willougbys," in footnotes instead of a glossary. Kids who are huge Willoughbys fans may learn a few things.
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Thirty years after the utterly nasty Willoughby parents are frozen whilst attempting to climb the Alps (wearing shorts and using their crampons as head decorations), they are miraculously thawed with the help of global warming.  Meanwhile, their now-wealthy first-born Timothy watches his fortune collapse as congress has declared candy illegal (and he runs a sweets empire).  The (aptly named) Poore children next-door have offered themselves as paid companions to Timothy’s son Richie (also aptly named) who is lonely despite his great wealth.  

The story is rich, twisted, and child-centric; the writing is fun and quintessential Lois Lowry.  A complete pleasure to read.
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