A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket opens new horizons with "A Series of Unfortunate Events." You may have thought that all creative thought and imaginative writing left the earth with children’s authors Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss, but think again.

Those who grew up reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Horton Hears a Who and all the rest are well aware of the lasting effect these books have been on their lives. They have opened the door to a limitless world called the imagination. Dahl and Seuss may be gone, but there is a successor to the throne of children’s fiction. His name is Lemony Snicket (to kids, that is; to adults, he is known as Daniel Handler).

Lemony Snicket aka Daniel Handler
Lemony Snicket aka Daniel Handler

Lemony Snicket wrote a thirteen-book series based on the unfortunate and tragic happenings in the lives of three orphans. Hence the name: “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Snicket’s sarcastic way of abandoning “normal” cheerful literature seems to resonate well with children who are probably tired of idealistic Disney television and politically-correct youth fiction. Everyone loves to force imitation happiness on children, ignoring the fact of the sorrow that unavoidably happens in life. Lemony Snicket is most certainly not everyone, and Lemony Snicket uses storylines wrought with misfortune to bring out the humorous, the ridiculous, and the important sides of life.

The Gist

There are thirteen miserable books, and thirteen depressing chapters in each book. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are happy, innocent children playing on the seashore when the news of their parents’ death in a terrible fire reaches them. The three siblings are taken away to live with a relative they’ve never met. But Count Olaf isn’t a sympathizing, caring, comforting family member at all. In reality, he is a dirty, unpleasant con artist who wants to get his hands on the Baudelaire family fortune that the orphans are to inherit. He will do whatever it takes to steal the fortune, making the Baudelaires miserable in the mean time. He and his minions spend each book inventing new ways to satisfy their greedy desires, but the Baudelaires always manage to evade their evil intentions with the help of friends they meet along the way.

Violet Baudelaire
Violet Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire
Mr. Poe
Mr. Poe
Count Olaf
Count Olaf

The Main Characters

Violet Baudelaire

Violet is the oldest, being fourteen. She has the mind of an inventor. You know when she is thinking up her latest invention because she ties her hair back to stay out of the way of her inventing thoughts. Violet’s imagination often helps her and her siblings to get out of pickles.

Klaus Baudelaire

Klaus is twelve years old and highly intelligent. More often than not, he has his nose in a book. Klaus uses the information he has stored from reading to battle the bad guys.

Sunny Baudelaire

Sunny is but a baby with four teeth. She speaks her own baby language. Sunny loves biting things and sometimes biting things comes in handy.

Mr. Poe

Mr. Poe is a banker and the executor of the Baudelaire family estate. This means he takes charge of what happens to the Baudelaire orphans until Violet comes of age to receive the family fortune. You often hear Mr. Poe before you see him because he is afflicted with a chronic cough. Mr. Poe isn’t a very good executor because he almost always gives the children into the hands of very incapable guardians.

Count Olaf

Count Olaf is an actor and the children’s first guardian. He is the evil nemesis. He is tall, thin, and dirty. He has only one eyebrow across his forehead and a tattoo of a wide-open eye on his ankle. Count Olaf is very clever at disguises, but even though adults are always blind to his masquerades, the Baudelaire orphans can spot Count Olaf a mile away.

Who is Daniel Handler?

Daniel Handler is the real name of Lemony Snicket. He writes books and plays the accordion. Daniel Handler was born February 28, 1970 in San Francisco, California. He is a husband and father, as well as a greatly loved author. To see a list of his books:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Handler

Who is Lemony Snicket?

Lemony Snicket is the narrator of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. He keeps his identity a secret and his face hidden. He is the historian of the Baudelaire children. Mr. Snicket is given to depression of the worst kind, the kind that is justifiable by the worst of circumstances: false accusations and lost love. Although he is on the run from the police, he is dedicated to publishing the true story of the Baudelaire orphans.

cover from The Bad Beginning
cover from The Bad Beginning

Not Just for Kids

Please do not think that “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is for melancholy children only; melancholy adults will also find the books entertaining and enlightening. In the words of C. S. Lewis: "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

Reasons to give your children or yourself the gift of Lemony Snicket

Growing imaginations

The mind of a child is constantly growing. It will take whatever water and sunshine you can give it. Thus, it is important not only that you give a child books to read, but also that you give a child good books to read. A Series of Unfortunate Events creates a world unto itself and spreads out new horizons for children.

Vocabulary

Whether Lemony Snicket himself has a fascination for vocabulary or he just wants children to be more than merely literate, the books are filled with colorful words and colorful explanations that penetrate your memory better than a textbook perhaps would.

Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket
Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket

A Warning to cautious parents

Morbid humor

A Series of Unfortunate Events is characterized by an overall sense of morbid humor. People die all the time, and people hurt all the time. Somehow, Lemony Snicket plucks strands of humorous truth out of all of this.

Atheistic/ humanistic worldview

Everyone one of us has a worldview, whether we admit to it or not. The worldview of Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) is that of atheism and humanism. I personally do not hold to either of these worldviews, and so feel obligated to warn you of them. Children are very sensitive and vulnerable, and need to be shown truth. I read “A Series of Unfortunate Events” when my childhood was a thing of the past, and was able to discern the author’s point of view. The perspective of Mr. Snicket: everything bad that happens in the books is “unfortunate”. No one can explain why things happen. Everything is based on luck, and the Baudelaire orphans are more than commonly unlucky.

 

There are 13 books in all

1) The Bad Beginning (1999)

2) The Reptile Room (1999)

3) The Wide Window (1999)

4) The Miserable Mill (2000)

5) The Austere Academy (2000)

6) The Ersatz Elevator (2001)

7) The Vile Village (2001)

8) The HostileHospital (2002)

9) The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)

10) The Slippery Slope (2003)

11) The Grim Grotto (2004)

12) The Penultimate Peril (2005)

13) The End (2006)

The Movie

In 2004, Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks released a film version of the first three books, titiled "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events." The film stars Jim Carrey, Jude Law, and Meryl Streep. Daniel Handler did some work on the screenplay, but was eventually taken off the crew.

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

Jane Grey profile image

Jane Grey 6 years ago from Oregon

I liked how you mirrored his writing style in spots; very clever! Your enjoyment of these books has made me consider picking them up again.


"Quill" 6 years ago

More reading on the reading list, Thank you for the wonderful review into a world I would have passed over.

Many Blessings


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Jane, I see you've picked up on my slight imitation. Unfortunately, I will never be able to match Lemony Snicket's way with words. Life is depressing. ;)

Quill, I'm happy I could introduce you to some new books! Blessings to you as well.


tipperary profile image

tipperary 6 years ago

I had never heard of this author, true most childrens books are full of happy events, what a great way to introduce them to real life situations. Must pick up one of these also. Thanks for sharing


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

tipperary, I'm glad this introduced you to Lemony Snicket. You should most definitely read some of his work!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Thanks for introducing people to Lemony Snicket. I used to read his books to my youngest son and we enjoyed them so much. I think my son's appreciation for Lemony Snicket helped his vocabulary a great deal. The Victorian melodrama made humorous makes for parental enjoyment and helps a child's reading skills immensely.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Dolores, thank you for sharing your experience with the Lemony Snicket books! I think the books hold those special traits that appeal to both children and adults. They are such fun to read and enjoy together!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States

I picked up the first in the series when I happened to be feeling out of place at a random aquaintance's house. I've been meaning to get hold of them again ever since.

It was uplifting to feel again the delight I felt at the unexpected language and abruptness of plot in the first few paragraphs of the first book. Well done.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Joy at Home, these books really do surprise you at every turn. I enjoyed every single book and they never got old. I hope you do find time to read them! I'm glad you stopped by!


no.1 fan 6 years ago

if you have not read these books you have not lived!


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Good way of saying it :)


isinson profile image

isinson 6 years ago

i haven't read yet any of these books and right now i'm planning to start reading it. :)


Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan Author

isinson, I hope you enjoy them! You'll have to let me know what you think.


madison 5 years ago

i really like the stories the author has some very good ideas


Rose West profile image

Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan Author

madison, I'm glad you stopped by! I highly respect the author and his immense imagination.


MosLadder profile image

MosLadder 5 years ago from Irvine, CA

Love these books! My older daughter had to read them for school and I was hooked :)


Rose West profile image

Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan Author

I love them too, MosLadder =) I think it's great that they appeal to both kids and adults.


Anaya M. Baker profile image

Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks for the review! I loved the Lemony Snicket movie that came out a few years back, but never thought to look into the books. Ah, Roald Dahl, the memories are coming back. The Witches, The Twits, definitely some of the best books ever written...and I mean for all ages!


Rose West profile image

Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Anaya, I loved the movie too - but I think it goes without saying that the books are a hundred times better :) Definitely check them out. I've been rereading them lately, and they're still great!


htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

Great post..nice


Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks, htodd!


Lim 4 years ago

Its a very nice story! Hope to get a copy of these


Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Lim, be sure you do! The series makes great reading :)


Katness Snowell 4 years ago

I love these books a lot and wondered for a long time if they were ever true. They are a great collection to read. And when you do read them you will be drawn in like a bee to honey...even when you finish it you will just want more.


Rose West profile image

Rose West 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Hi Katness, exactly... where is book number 14? Lemony Snicket is one of the best authors out there!

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