Synopses & Reviews
If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale. I'm afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don't be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the reappearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
"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." Publishers Weekly
"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." Horn Book
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky.
In the first two books alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, a lumpy bed, a deadly serpent, a large brass reading lamp, a long knife, and a terrible odour.
In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. Never before has a tale of three likeable and unfortunate children been quite so enchanting, or quite so uproariously unhappy.
About the Author
Lemony Snicket grew up near the sea and currently lives beneath it. To his horror and dismay, he has no wife or children, only enemies, associates, and the occasional loyal manservant. His trial has been delayed, so he is free to continue researching and recording the tragic tales of the Baudelaire orphans for HarperCollins.
Reading Group Guide
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
- 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?
- 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.
- Who is standing behind you right now? Discuss.
Listen to an excerpt from The Carnivorous Carnival
Listen to an excerpt from The Slippery Slope