The Bad Beginning: reviews and summaries
In the darkly hilarious book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, author Lemony Snicket shares with readers everything he knows about the Baudelaire family. After much careful research on the Baudelaires, a very wealthy bunch who seem to be the unluckiest clan in the world, Snicket is an expert.
It makes perfect sense that the series starts at the beginning with --- THE BAD BEGINNING, Book the First. It's in this title that we learn how children Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny Baudelaire become orphans. And from that moment on, we're on a roller coaster ride as the Baudelaires face danger, adventure, and doom at every turn. Of course, along with all the gloominess come some pretty good laughs. In all, thirteen books are planned --- a most unlucky number.
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----- Shannon Maughan
mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children,
and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when
Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their
whole house. "It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet,
Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed," laments the personable
(occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are
gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful.
The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored
clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep
of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they
know that they--and their family fortune--are in real trouble. Still, they
could never have anticipated how much trouble. While it's true that the events
that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out
as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent
of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster
aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the
mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies). There is
no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures
of the Baudelaire children in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. (Ages
9 and older) --Karin Snelson
of the Baudelaire orphans is a tragic one, telling the miserable tale of Violet,
Klaus, and Sunny (the orphans), who lose their parents in a fire that destroys
their home and all of their possessions and are then sent to live with the
ominous Count Olaf. The Count plots to take control of the entire Baudelaire
fortune, while treating the children very poorly, making them do all sorts
of chores and providing them horrible living conditions.
The book had its ups and downs. For example, I thought the narrator's definitions and repeated warnings that the book was "very sad" were annoying, not funny (as I think the author intended). I didn't find "The Bad Beginning" that sad, probably because I'm a boy. Sure, it must have been pretty sad for the kids to learn that their parents had been charcoaled like hotdogs. But, to me, the book was intended to be read the same way you watch old silent movies (I saw some for the first time this summer ... neat stuff!): knowing it's funny because it's an exaggeration. I'm not putting the book down; don't get me wrong. I plan to read the rest of the series. One of its "ups," by the way, was that the orphans' ideas were really cool....
When I shared my opinion of the book with my mom, who is also reading the series, we discussed how the book is actually plot-driven, not character-driven ... meaning, the focus is on what happens to the Baudelaire orphans, not who the Baudelaire orphans are. When you're done reading, you don't "know" Violet, Klaus, and Sunny the way you know Harry, Ron, and Hermione (from the Harry Potter series, of course), for example.
Anyway, if you're looking for a quick, fun read, try this.
I thought the Bad Beginning was an interesting book about three young orphans and their first terrible home. The book was witty and fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Misfortune happened all the time but Lemony Snicket made it humorous. I clearly enjoyed the characters as much as the plot. I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys reading humorous books.
Reptile Room: book reviews and summaries
The Reptile Room begins where Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning ends... on the road with the three orphaned Baudelaire children as they are whisked away from the evil Count Olaf to face "an unknown fate with some unknown relative." But who is this Dr. Montgomery, their late father's cousin's wife's brother? "Would Dr. Montgomery be a kind person? they wondered. Would he at least be better than Count Olaf? Could he possibly be worse?" He certainly is not worse, and in fact when the Baudelaire children discover that he makes coconut cream cakes, circles the globe looking for snakes to study, and even plans to take them with him on his scientific expedition to Peru, the kids can't believe their luck. And, if you have read the first book in this Series of Unfortunate Events, you won't believe their luck either. Despite the misadventures that befall these interesting, intelligent, resourceful orphans, you can trust that the engaging narrator will make their story--suspenseful and alarming as it is--a true delight. The Wide Window is next, and more are on their way. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
An 11-year old reader from Charleston. IL USA
"The Reptile Room" is my favorite book in the Series of Unfourtunate Events. If you liked the first book can be almost sure you are going to like this one.
The Baudelaire's troubles continue they go to live with another relative, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Uncle Monty, for short). He is a scientist who studies snakes. Not that Uncle Monty is the problem. No, the Baudelaire's are just about as happy here as they were with their parents. The trouble starts when Count Olaf shows up again, this time posing as Uncle Monty's assistant, Stephano.
Things plunge from wonderful to horrible when Count Olaf shows up, but, as in the first book (and I've read the other books in the series so far, and this goes for them too), Lemony Snicket mixes in plenty of dry humor with the unfortunate to make this book great. This is the book that made me want to read the rest of the series (something that's highly recommended)!
by Lawrance M. Bernabo from Duluth, MN
"The Reptile Room" is Book the Second in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It professes--the word "professes" here means "claims to be"--to be the story of the three unlucky Baudelaire children, but I suspect that, with all due respect, Lemony Snicket is really engaging in vocabulary building skills for his young readers. Now, this has no effect on me because I already know what "ridicule," "preempt," "crude," and "retrieve" mean and do not need to have them defined for me. However, I suspect that for many young readers this book may well be, and I hesitate to use the word, educational.
the first volume in the series, which began with the Baudelaire children Violet,
Klaus, and Sunny being orphaned by the death of their parents and being placed
in the clutches of the wicked, bad, mean and nasty Count Olaf, "The Reptile
Room" provides a brief window of opportunity for readers to have high
hopes for their future. Mr. Poe has entrusted their care to Dr. Montgomery
Montgomery, who is not only their late father's cousin's wife's brother but
also a herpetologist of some repute (and the discoverer of the impressively
misnamed Incredibly Deadly Viper). Dr. Montgomery gives the children the run
of his home in general and the Reptile Room in particular, and plans to take
them along on his expedition to Peru. The children are happy and gay, but
such feelings do not last long in this series and before the end of the tale
there is a deadly snake, a murder, a car accident, and the return of the worst
of all possible persons.
Fortunately, Violent Baudelaire is especially good at inventing things, her brother Klaus likes to read, and Sunny may be inarticulate but is still a clever little baby. These characteristics go a long way towards explaining why there are additional volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events instead of it ending in complete disaster earlier along the way. Even if it requires children to learn new words and to think of creative ways of solving problems, I would still maintain reading the works of Lemony Snickert to be a good thing. The story of misery and woe continues in "The Wide Window," which apparently will involve Curdled Cave, a small bag of shattered glass, the menu from the Anxious Clown restaurant, and a test tube containing one (1) Lachrymose Leech. However, younger readers should feel free to read something diverting and possibly even happy before proceeding to the next series of tragic events regarding the Baudelaire children.
The Wide Window: reviews and summaries
In The Bad Beginning, things, well, begin badly for the three Baudelaire orphans. And sadly, events only worsen in The Reptile Room. In the third in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, there is still no hope on the horizon for these poor children. Their adventures are exciting and memorable, but, as the author points out, "exciting and memorable like being chased by a werewolf through a field of thorny bushes at midnight with nobody around to help you."
This story begins when the orphans are being escorted by the well-meaning Mr. Poe to yet another distant relative who has agreed to take them in since their parents were killed in a horrible fire. Aunt Josephine, their new guardian, is their second cousin's sister-in-law, and she is afraid of everything. Her house (perched precariously on a cliff above Lake Lachrymose) is freezing because she is afraid of the radiator exploding, she eats cold cucumber soup because she's afraid of the stove, and she doesn't answer the telephone due to potential electrocution dangers. Her greatest joy in life is grammar, however, and when it comes to the proper use of the English language, she is fearless.
But just when she should be the most fearful--when Count Olaf creeps his way back to find the Baudelaire orphans and steal their fortune--she somehow lets her guard down. Once again, it is up to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny to get themselves out of danger. Will they succeed? We haven't the stomach to tell you. (Ages 9 to 12) --Karin Snelson
and misery for the poor Baudelaire orphans, July 22, 2002
Reviewer: Christian Wheeler) from St. Louis, MO
Having narrowly escaped the dreadful Count Olaf, the three orphans are once again placed with another guardian by the clueless and inept Mr. Poe. This time it's Aunt Josephine, a dowdy woman who loves language and grammar (to the point of obsession) and who lives in a lonely house on a high hill overlooking the appropriately named Lake Lachrymose. When she disappears, leaving only a note behind, the kids sense the diabolical presence of Count Olaf behind it, and race to save poor Aunt Josephine. Once again, Snicket provides the goods, blending dark humor, bad jokes, literary references, and heart-stopping suspense. There's a neat plot twist involving the note Aunt Josephine left for the kids, and once more, they employ their talents to foil the evil Count. At this point, there seems to be a pattern developing in these books--kids go to a new guardian, who falls victim to Count Olaf, and the kids narrowly escape his treachery. But keep reading--each story builds into the next, and what may seem trivial in one story may be crucial in the following book. The ongoing plot thread adds many layers as it progresses from book to book, and part of the fun is trying to figure out where it will go from here.
The Miserable Mill: reviews and summaries
"The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get better," begins The Miserable Mill. If you have been introduced to the three Baudelaire orphans in any of Lemony Snicket's previous novels, you know that not only will their lives not get better, they will get much worse. In the fourth installment in the "Series of Unfortunate Events," the sorrowful siblings, having once again narrowly escaped the clutches of the evil Count Olaf, are escorted by the kindly but ineffectual Mr. Poe to their newest "home" at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Much to their horror (if not surprise), their dormitory at the mill is crowded and damp, they are forced to work with spinning saw blades, they are fed only one meal a day (not counting the chewing gum they get for lunch), and worst of all, Count Olaf lurks in a dreadful disguise as Shirley the receptionist just down the street. Not even the clever wordplay and ludicrous plot twists could keep this story buoyant--reading about the mean-spirited foreman, the deadly blades, poor Klaus (hypnotized and "reprogrammed"), and the relentless hopelessness of the children's situation only made us feel gloomy. Fans of these wickedly funny, suspenseful adventures won't want to miss out on a single one, but we're hoping the next tales have the delicate balance of delight and disaster we've come to expect from this exciting series. (Ages 9 to 12)
S Lee from Cerritos, CA
The book I¡¯m reading is called The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket. This book is about another one of the Baudelaire children¡¯s misfortunate events. This time, they are stuck in a place called Lucky Smells Lumbermill. When they walk into the gates of Lucky Smells Lumbermill, they find a letter written for them. Their guardian is a man named Sir and always has a cloud of smoke covering his face. Sir is supposed to protect the children, but instead, makes them work in a lumbermill and never notices that Count Olaf and some of his friends are lurking nearby. Now the children are really in for a time of getting splinters, Klaus getting hypnotized, and only a piece of gum for lunch.
Why, hello there, little girls,¡± Count Olaf said in a ridiculously
high voice, as if he really were a receptionist named Shirley instead of an
evil man after the Baudelaire fortune.¡± I really liked this
book because Count Olaf is dressed up rather silly, and tries to talk like
a woman. He has been a guy named Stephano, he has been a sailor named Captain
Sham, but I have never seen him as a receptionist at the dentist. Of course,
the children notice him right away and try to plead their new guardian to
believe that this man is Count Olaf. But none of them ever believe. Mr. Poe,
the man who is in charge of where the children go and their fortune, never
believes the delirious children. I always find that very annoying. But, that
part of the book always makes it fun.
I disliked this book was because it wasn¡¯t as good as the other
book in the series. This book seemed a little dry and that is the reason I
gave it four stars. I would have given the other books five stars, but this
book just didn¡¯t seem good enough. It wasn¡¯t as adventurous
and didn¡¯t have a lot of settings, just one place, the miserable
Lucky Smells Lumbermill. I hope the next books in this series are a bit more
interesting and are able to make a five star rating. As always, I am still
interested in reading the next book called The Austere Academy.
My favorite part of the book was when Foreman Flacutono kept tripping Klaus to make him break his glasses. I liked that part because it kind of reminded me of how real people do that for fun. But I thought it was kind of sad, but it was a good part because it reminded me of kids. Foreman Flacutono did this because he needed Klaus to go to the dentist. I couldn¡¯t believe how clumsy Klaus was because he fell every time and didn¡¯t look out for a foot. I think that kind of reminds me to watch out for bad people and influences in life and to not keep falling into trouble again.
Adam from Kirklan,WA
I am reading a series of books called, A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I am on the fourth book, called The Miserable Mill. These books are great! I really got into them! I just can't stop reading them.
are two things I really like about these books: the character names and the
exciting plot. All of these books are really cool because the author puts
in really cool character names, like the three main characters, which are
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. I also like how the three children look out for
each other. And my favorite parts are their really cool adventures.
three children lost their mom and dad in a fire, and have been sent to their
relative Count Olaf. But some bad things happened to the children when Count
Olaf was taking care of them. So the three children went to someone else that
would take care of them, and now they're being taken care of at a lumber mill
These books aren't just for kids, anyone can enjoy them!