A wacky romp for kids by the author of The Giver, of all things, is headed to TV screens as an animated film next month.
Netflix has adapted author/illustrator Lois Lowry’s 2008 children’s novel The Willoughbys as an original animated feature, which will premiere on April 22, according to a new trailer that the streaming service released on Monday.
The novel tells the tale of the four Willoughby children—Timothy, twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and Jane—who find an abandoned baby, whom they leave on a neighbor’s doorstep. They soon formulate a plan to get rid of their own parents, who similarly want to get rid of them. According to Kirkus’ starred review, which favorably compared Lowry’s book to the works of Lemony Snicket, the story goes through “a series of increasingly absurd plot twists” and the kids, with the help of an eccentric nanny, “find themselves happily rid of their ghastly parents and reunited with the once-abandoned baby.”
As noted above, Lowry is best known for writing the bestselling 1993 YA dystopian novel The Giver, for which she won a Newbery Medal, and its sequels, which are very different in tone from The Willoughbys, to say the least. A film adaptation of The Giver, featuring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, was released in 2014. The author also won a Newbery Medal for her 1989 historical novel, Number the Stars.
The new film’s voice actors include comedians Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Terry Crews, and Ricky Gervais, and singer/songwriter Alessia Cara. One of the film’s co-directors, Kris Pearn, also co-directed the 2013 animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, which drew inspiration from a 1978 kids’ book by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett.
David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.