Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-This series chronicles the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire children: Violet, 14; Klaus, 12; and the infant, Sunny. In Bad Beginning, their parents and possessions perish in a fire, and the orphans must use their talents to survive as their lives move from one disastrous event to another. Surrounded by dim-witted though well-meaning adults, the Baudelaires find themselves in the care of their evil relative, Count Olaf, a disreputable actor whose main concern is getting his hands on the children's fortune. When Olaf holds Sunny hostage to force Violet to marry him, it takes all of the siblings' resourcefulness to outwit him. Violet's inventive genius, Klaus's forte for research, and Sunny's gift for biting the bad guys at opportune moments save the day. However, the evil Count escapes, only to return in The Reptile Room just as the children are settling into a far more pleasant life with their new guardian, Uncle Monty, who is promptly murdered by Olaf and his cohorts. Though the villain escapes again, and beloved Uncle Monty is dead, the children are safe...for now. While the misfortunes hover on the edge of being ridiculous, Snicket's energetic blend of humor, dramatic irony, and literary flair makes it all perfectly believable. The writing, peppered with fairly sophisticated vocabulary and phrases, may seem daunting, but the inclusion of Snicket's perceptive definitions of difficult words makes these books challenging to older readers and excellent for reading aloud.-Linda Bindner, formerly at Athens Clarke County Library, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Tim Curry, whose appropriately unctuous and sometimes slimy delivery are a hallmark of the audiobook versions of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events titles, is thankfully up to his old tricks. Curry returns on the 11th installment, The Grim Grotto, to play Snicket, Count Olaf and all the gang with welcome flair. The enhanced CD features word games, photos and artwork when played on a personal computer. Curry also returns as the linchpin on a new, multivoice recording of The Bad Beginning, the first book in the series, which ties in to the feature film release of Paramount/Nickelodeon/Dreamwork's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Gr. 4^-7. Alas, the poor Beaudelaire children! Violet, Klaus, and baby sister Sunny suffer all sorts of misfortunes, beginning when their parents die in a fire and they become wards of a distant cousin, evil Count Olaf. Author "Lemony Snicket" (a pseudonym, perhaps?) points out in an opening note, "It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing," and then proceeds to recount the story with relish aplenty. In The Reptile Room, it momentarily seems like the children might have a chance for happiness when they go to live with a kind reptile expert. Needless to say, Count Olaf makes certain their happiness doesn't last. The droll humor, reminiscent of Edwin Gorey's, will be lost on some children; others may not enjoy the old-fashioned storytelling style that frequently addresses the reader directly and includes many definitions of terms. But plenty of children will laugh at the over-the-top satire; hiss at the creepy, nefarious villains; and root for the intelligent, courageous, unfortunate Beaudelaire orphans. --Susan Dove Lempke
Horn Book Review
Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the First, The Bad Beginning Read by Tim Curry. Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Second, The Reptile Room Read by Tim Curry. Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events 3: The Wide Window Read by the author. Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events 4: The Miserable Mill Read by the author. The first two volumes of these glumly funny melodramas are read by Tim Curry and recount the pathetic orphaning of the three Baudelaire children and their further gloomy adventures with their herpetology-inclined uncle, Dr. Montgomery. The next two are read by Lemony Snicket and follow the trio's adventures at the Lucky Smells Lumber Mill and their incarceration with a distantly related aunt who lives on the edge of Lake Lachrymose. Tim Curry reads at a measured pace and with a droll formality. At the same time, he seemingly twists his vocal cords to create outrageous voices for the equally outrageous characters he portrays. Lemony Snicket's approach is wholly different, featuring the offhand sang-froid of a standup comedian. Although he, too, creates a variety of voices, they succeed more from an intimate knowledge of the material than from vocal high jinks. With these two readers, it is merely a matter of preference; listeners are in for a treat. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
The Baudelaire children'Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny'are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who ``is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.'' The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)