The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Through a weird set of circumstances, I came to read The Reptile Room with a group of students. This, as many know, is the second book in the A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. This is a series I have wanted to read, but frankly, with such a lengthy list of unread books, I have not tackled. As I read The Reptile Room, my OCD kicked in. I just had to read the first book in the series.

For the past week I had been wanting to stop off at the used bookstore in town to pick up a copy. It didn’t happen. But yesterday Beetle remained home with her mother, which freed my trip home from work. I stopped in and found two copies of the first book (The Bad Beginning): one hardcover and one paperback, both priced the same. 🙁 I selected the hardcover.

Upon opening the book, the nameplate was signed with a familiar name; the boy who lives across the street had owned this book. I took this as a good omen. 🙂

The Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny) do indeed have a series of unfortunate events. First their parents die in a house fire. Then they are shepherded off to Count Olaf, their closest (in distance) relative. The Count, a drunkard, actor, and otherwise miserable brute devises a plan to take control of the vast Baudelaire fortune.

Ah yes, dear reader, upon Violet turning of age (she is 14 now) she will inherit a great fortune. Until then, Violet and her siblings are bounced about among the seedy.

While the fortunate remains safe for the time being, there is no happy ending, as Lemony Snicket is fond of highlighting. Life is miserable for the Baudelaires.

Lemony Snicket’s writing is a breath of fresh air. The author frequently takes time out to explain terms and events to the reader. These read much like movies/television shows where the actors break out of character and address the camera. What great fun! The Bad Beginning is classic English humor that, much in the spirit of the late Roald Dahl, captures the reader immediately.

Follett states the reading level of this book sixth grade (ages 11-12). Much like Rowling’s Harry Potter series, A Series of Unfortunate Events has captured young readers. Many of my fourth graders are reading the series and an even larger group of fifth graders are too. Interesting, well-written prose will always find an audience and this book is just that.

It looks like I will be visiting the bookstore again real soon . . .

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