by Lemony Snicket
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars
In the opening scene, Violet, Klaus and their baby sister are playing at the beach when a grownup friend of their parents’ finds them to tell them their parents are dead and they are now orphans under the care of their relative, Count Olaf. The Count’s evil scheme to get his hands on the Baudelaire kids’ inheritance involves forcing 14-year-old Violet to marry him.
Personal Evaluation: I had a really hard time just skimming this one since it was so intriguing. I loved coming across the narrator’s definitions in the text. I thought they were really clever, especially because they were not always words that a reader would need a definition for, so it might make them feel smarter. This was a really quick read and pretty easy to follow since not that much happened. One thing I noticed while skimming is that most chapters do not begin with dialogue or end with cliffhangers. Chapters tend to begin with narration, but you can’t argue with popularity – clearly these books are fun for kids to read regardless. I also found the whole marriage plot to be rather disturbing, but hopefully it’s one of those things that kids will suspend belief for and not think too hard about.
What might interest children: Definitely the definitions, and there’s a sort of schadenfreude going on since most kids’ lives are not as dire as the Baudelaire kids’. But at the same time, as the narrator points out, there may be unfortunate circumstances in some kids’ lives that makes them relate to crying themselves to sleep, for example. Overall, it’s easy to love Violet and Klaus and Sunny and to root for them in all their bad situations.