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.
isaiahmford, August 30, 2013 (view all comments by isaiahmford)
In this book, it tells about the Baudelaire orphans time working in the lumber mill. I think this book was the best book in the Series of Unfortunate Events series. Lemony Snicket is so clever, I think Count Olaf dressing up like a girl was his best idea, it was so funny! These books will always be my favorite series.
Isaiah, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by Isaiah)
This is my favorite book in the A Series of Unfortunate Events books! I love this one because its so interesting. I love how he described the town. I also thought it was funny how the boss paid them with bubblegum! This series is my favorite book series.
pall_junior, December 12, 2006 (view all comments by pall_junior)
One of the best books I have read so far. The layout and the unfortunate events were the best. Hypnotism was, I think, one of Lemony Snicket's best idea.
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"The story is deliciously mock-Victorian and self-mockingly melodramatic. Helquist's deft pencil drawings and the author's many asides to the reader underscore the droll humor, which many children will relish. Another plum for the orphans' fans."
by School Library Journal,
"This fourth book in the series about the Baudelaire orphans works fine as a stand-alone....This is for readers who appreciate this particular type of humor; it exaggerates the sour and makes anyone's real life seem sweet in comparison."
by Children's Literature,
"The pseudonymous Snicket returns in fine fettle....It remains...irrelevant what gloom and doom actually descends upon these children while Snicket is the omniscient narrator in charge. His marvelous asides and play on words are what enliven these Victorian-style satires. It's unclear how many actual children there are out there who can follow Snicket's verbal swoops, but he's a joy to the literate adult."
As Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire look out the grimy window of the train taking them to The Lucky Smells Lumber Mill to live, they can't help but wonder what lies ahead. Will misfortune lurk behind every log? Though these children are clever, resilient, and good-looking, everything that could possibly go wrong for them, unfortunately, usually does. In this fourth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I'm sorry to say, the children will encounter a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a ghastly accident, and coupons.
From the tradition of classic tales for children, where terrible things always seem to befall orphans, comes this exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. This latest installment in Lemony Snicket's uproariously unhappy series may just be the worst yet.
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