Monday, September 11, 2017

MMGM: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Books 1-13, A Series of Unfortunate Events
These covers are out of order!?!
A Series of 
Unfortunate Events

Written by Lemony Snicket
Cover by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins, 1999
Ages 8-12, Lexile 1010L
Avg 263 pages, Avg 41000 words

Misfortune, Misery, Despair, Orphans

"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and they had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes."

A Series of Unfortunate Events follow the misadventures of three orphans as they unravel their parents mysterious past and their uncertain future. All the while they are pursued by a villain-to-end-all-villains, count Olaf. Though the later books were a bit plotless, and the ending was somewhat unsatisfying, the grim humor, inventive storytelling, and iconic Snicket style from dedication to jacket blurb are worth turning every page.

And now random tips:
Definitely start with The Bad Beginning. Read them in order. Don't skip the front and back matter including the dedication, the jacket blurbs, and the author's note. Seriously.
The Wide Window remains my favorite. The Grim Grotto my least. Hang in there. I thought the books lost a little steam by book 8, but 9 is hilarious.
You may want to take breaks in between. I found some of the humor loses its charm if you do all 550K-odd pages in a row.
Don't miss out on all the companion artwork by Brett Helquist. Also stop at his Etsy shop for some Baudelaire prints (some never before published!)
The cds are no substitute for the paper versions because many of the jokes depend on visual cues, but I do recommend the cds once you've read books 1-13. The author narrates his own audiobooks. His creepy deadpan isn't for everyone though, so the publisher rerecorded the series read by the unparalleled Tim Curry. (Have a handkerchief handy for his interpretation of Mr. Poe!)

1. Our illustrious host, Shannon Messenger reviewed this series on her blog.

2. Want more Lemony Snicket madness? He has written plenty of other amazing books. I reviewed his fabulous picture book, The Composer is Deadillustrated by Carson Ellis.
Kitty Cat at the Library reviewed All the Wrong Questions, the first book in a different series. All the Wrong Questions has a different voice, but the same quirky bent, this time with a noir twist.

3. Other MMGM bloggers recommend
Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey, cover by Iacopo Bruno
Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Terry Fan
The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield, by John Bemelmans Marciano, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, illustrated by Jeffrey Timmins.

Deadweather and Sunrise,
The Chronicles of Egg #1
Reviewed by the Hopeful Heroine
Reviewed by Jenni Enzor

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield
Reviewed by Always in the Middle
A Whole Nother Story,
Reviewed by Shannon Messenger

Visit the Friday Drive-In review of  A Series of Unfortunate Events.
View all the Summer Drive-In reviews for 2017.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for September 11, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Have you reviewed any Lemony Snicket books? Please leave your link in the comments below. Feel free to leave your other MG recommendations, too. Thanks!


  1. I remember reading a few of these. Your review makes me want to read the rest of the series. Thanks for featuring.

    1. To be honest, I read the third book first and read it in such a rush that I paid little attention. The result was I wasn't impressed. A few years later when my son was the right age, I read the first along with him--and finally "got" the series. Talk about slow on the uptake! Ow #3 is my favorite in the series! Thanks.

  2. My grandsons read and loved all of the Lemony Snicket books. I haven't read one. Someday I need to take the plunge and read a book.

    1. They are pretty quick to read when you find the time. Thanks, Patricia!

  3. I really enjoyed this series, although I do agree that the later books weren't as good. I didn't like the end so much. But I loved a few of the other books you mentioned as well, The Rooftoppers and The Whole Nother Story (a particular favorite of my oldest son). I love omniscient narrators with stories of their own. Another good series in a similar vein is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.

    1. Thanks. Here's a link to Jenni's review of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place
      And a link to her review of the fifth book in the series


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!