Plot: Four siblings, the eldest Tim, the twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and youngest Jane, are fed up with their parents and wish to become orphans. Their parents simply do not care that they exist. One evening while reading the newspaper the father comes up with a great idea: Hansel and Gretel, they should simply abandon their children. So, they decide to take a vacation, they hire a nanny and leave. Meanwhile the children find a baby girl left on their doorstep, name her Ruth, and then decide to leave it on the billionaire’s doorstep, Mr. Melanoff, up the road. The parents are on a dangerous adventure, the kids are getting along with their nanny, some random boy in Germany is trekking across the country, and Mr. Melanoff is starting to become a new man with the new baby around. All of their fates with will somehow create a happy ending.
Review: Whimsical and old-fashioned take on a new spin. The Willoughby children, Tim, Barnaby A, Barnaby B, and Jane, like to do things the old-fashioned way. If it is not old-fashioned way, they generally do not do it. These four siblings wish to become orphaned from their neglectful parents. As luck is on their side, their parents decide to take an extended vacation, and just may never return. This book is hilarious and filled with new vocabulary that is seldom found in children’s books. Even the glossary at the end is laugh inducing with its definitions ribbing on lawyers, the Red Sox, and third grade teachers. Children will get lost in the tongue-in-the-cheek script and unexpected plot twists.
Reading Level/Interest Level: 5.2/3-6 graders
Similar Materials: Lemony Snicket series, Mary Poppins, Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Reader’s Advisory: This book was very funny and completely absurd. The Willoughby children are hilarious in their “old-fashioned” ways. I liked how all of the character’s fates ended up intertwining and a wonderful turn of events.