I have witnesses. Georgia has hated sarcasm since pre-school. It drives her crazy when people say the exact opposite of what they mean. Unfortunately, we are perhaps excessively sarcastic in our family. So, if you come over, it is common to hear Georgia say, “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t like sarcasm?” Frequently, I will respond and say, “I’m not being sarcastic, I’m being facetious.” There is an important difference. Being facetious is the act of treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor. The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry is not sarcastic, it is facetious. And, it is wonderful. Our whole family loved it.
It is the story of an old fashioned family where the parents really don’t like their children and would love to get rid of them. At the same time, the children realize all the great stories are about orphans, and are certain they would have a significantly better life if their parents died in some terrible accident while traveling. I’m not doing a good job of describing this book here, because I’m telling you – it is laugh out loud funny. If your child loved the Lemony Snicket series, I think they would also enjoy this book. And, here is the best part – it has a happy ending. Facetious and feel-good, what more could you ask for?
Even though it appears to have dark themes, it is not violent or graphic and I would recommend it for read aloud to children as young as 2nd grade. I think the humor is perfectly targeted at 4th graders on up. It also has some great vocabulary words such as bilious (about to vomit or extremely unpleasant to look at) and or odious (something hateful or disgusting). Thankfully there is a glossary in the back of the book, so when your child calls you irascible you can feel comfortable that they are using it correctly.
– Jessica Wheeler