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 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.
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.
The Main Characters
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 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 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 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 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:
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.
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."
Buy the complete set...it's worth it
Reasons to give your children or yourself the gift of Lemony Snicket
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.
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.
A Warning to cautious parents
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.
- Lemony Snicket
For more information on Lemony Snicket and his depolorable books visit the official website.
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)
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.
A study guide to the first book
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