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.
by Publishers Weekly,
"[H]umorously melodramatic tales."
by School Library Journal,
"This is 'Book the Third' in a series about the wealthy and clever but unfortunate Baudelaire children who were orphaned in a tragic fire....The writing is tongue-in-cheek John Bellairs, E. Nesbit, or Edward Eager with a little Norton Juster thrown in. The style is similar to the many books with old houses and rocky shores in Maine or Great Britain including the Edward Goreyesque illustrations. Unfortunately, the book misses the mark. The narrator is humorous but intrusive, explaining words and providing many obvious clues that surface later. Aunt Josephine's constant correction of vocabulary and grammar, while at first humorous, becomes annoying. The book is really not bad; it just tries too hard and there are so many similar books that are much better."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"The third book in A Series of Unfortunate Events...has all the stuff of its predecessors melodrama, bold narration, dark humor, exaggerated emotions and dialogue, humorously stereotypical characters, and an overriding conflict between good and evil....Children and fortunate adults will relish the good-natured wordplay and the attempts at the heights of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll; the three likable, independent orphans wend their way through modern fairy-tale action in a darkly humorous, look-out-for-the-next-one novel."
Catastrophes and misfortune continue to plague the Baudelaire orphans after they're sent to live with fearful Aunt Josephine who offers little protection against Count Olaf's treachery.
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