From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-In this "autobiographical" mystery, a teenaged Lemony Snicket recounts his early experiences as an apprentice to S. Theodora Markson, a pretentious woman who is not remotely as intelligent as she pretends. The two travel to the formerly seaside (but now not) town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea to investigate the theft of, what they are told, is a priceless heirloom. The identity of the culprit is obvious. Or is it? There's much more to this case than meets the eye. To uncover what's really going on, the inquisitive Snicket must figure out who he can trust and which questions to ask before it's too late. This fast-paced whodunit is likely to leave readers with questions of their own. Hopefully, they're the right questions-which, hopefully, will be answered in upcoming sequels. Written in Snicket's gloomy, yet undeniably charming, signature style and populated with wonderfully quirky characters, this enjoyable start of a new series will thrill fans of the author's earlier works and have even reluctant readers turning pages with the fervor of seasoned bookworms. A must-have.-Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Oh, Lemony Snicket. How you confound us. For instance, in this book, the first of the All the Wrong Questions series, you give us so many unmoored happenings that readers may be inclined to believe they’ve landed in the middle of the second book. True, we will learn you’re an almost-13-year-old boy and that you escape your parents (or are they your parents?!) in a tea room to meet the woman with whom you’ll apprentice. And then you and S. Theodora Markson (what does the S stand for?) make your way to a sea town, now devoid of the ink for which it’s famous, and deserted by its residents, to find a statue rather like the Maltese Falcon, only it’s the Bombinating Beast. Someone is waiting for you back home, but who? What’s this secret program you seem to be a part of? Who cares about the Bombinating Beast? (You may take that comment any way you wish.) But just as when you were with those charming Baudelaire children, the adventures roll and one can only speculate what’s around the corner. Not that it will do any good. Kudos to Seth for the marvelous woodcut art. The pictures seem to hold clues. Or do they? HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Please, it’s Lemony Snicket. Enough said. Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper