A Series of Unfortunate Events is the term HarperCollins uses to describe a sequence of books written by Lemony Snicket concerning the miserable plight of the three Baudelaire children at the hands of the sinister Count Olaf. It is a New York Times Best-selling series and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in North America and will soon be appearing all over the world. This guide is a desperate attempt to stop this travesty before it is too late. The discussion topics,suggested reading list and author biography in this reading group guide are intended to guide the public toward books that are less dreadful and so to promote comfort and vitality rather than despair and anxiety in our large and unnerving world.
Questions for Discussion:
In The Bad Beginning, Mr.Snicket warns his readers, "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." Yet many people have insisted on continuing to read this book anyway. What is wrong with such people?
The theme of The Reptile Room might be best stated, "Look out for Count Olaf — he will try to murder you!" Why do you think there are so few books that deal with this theme?
In The Wide Window, the character of Aunt Josephine is fright- ened of many things,and then a very frightening thing happens to her. Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?
The Miserable Mill brings up many important issues of the day, including child labor in the lumber industry, hypnotism within the medical profession, gum-chewing, cigar-smoking, cross-dressing, and the futility of coupons, bankers and optimism. How does the treatment of these issues in Snicket 's work differ from their treatment in the newspaper, on television and in musical theater?
Does anything in your life compare with the anguish the Baudelaire children encounter in The Austere Academy? If so,how terrible for you. If not, how nice. Discuss.
In The Ersatz Elevator, Violet, Klaus and Sunny encounter many things which are not what they seem. Yet The Ersatz Elevator is what it seems — a book containing nothing but despair, discomfort and woe. Discuss.
Violet, the eldest Baudelaire child, often risks her life when using one of her inventions in a desperate attempt to escape Count Olaf 's treachery. Is this a proper role model for young women?
Klaus, the middle Baudelaire child, often finds out disturbing information when researching Count Olaf 's evil ways. Is this a proper role model for young men?
Sunny, the youngest Baudelaire child, occasionally uses her four sharp teeth in an aggressive manner, in order to defeat Count Olaf 's dreadful behavior. Is this a proper role model for young babies?
Each of the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events is dedicated to Beatrice. When HarperCollins asked Mr.Snicket about this mysterious woman, he burst into tears and was unable to answer. Is this an appropriate author for young readers?
In each of Mr.Snicket 's books, there is no evidence that Count Olaf has ever been captured by the appropriate authorities. Is this more terrifying than horrifying, or more horrifying than terrifying? Discuss.
If Count Olaf is still at large isn't it risky to attract his attention by purchasing and reading any of Mr. Snicket 's books? Discuss.
Cathy, August 28, 2006 (view all comments by Cathy)
I found this book to be a very entertaining and exciting read for all ages. Each book contains information about the previouse book and the following book in a way that keeps the readers attention from the first word until the last. The author uses a unique writing style that makes you want to read more and more! I also saw this book to be somewhat origional which is difficult to find today. I highly recommend this book to everyone of all ages!
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by Publishers Weekly,
"The author uses formal, Latinate language and intrusive commentary to hilarious effect, even for readers unfamiliar with the literary conventions he parodies. The peril in which he places the Baudelaires may be frightening (Count Olaf actually follows through on his threats of violence on several occasions), but the author paints the satire with such broad strokes that most readers will view it from a safe distance. Luckily for fans, the woes of the Baudelaires are far from over: readers eager for more misfortune can turn to The Reptile Room, for an even more suspenseful tale. Exquisitely detailed drawings of Gothic gargoyles and mischievous eyes echo the contents of this elegantly designed hardcover."
by Horn Book,
"Related by a (per)snickety narrator, the books' unbelievable plot turns and one-dimensional characters parody bygone dime novels, but stylistic flourishes keep the stories entertaining."
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