As you might expect, nothing but woe befalls the unlucky Baudelaire orphans in the eighth grim tale in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events that began with The Bad Beginning
. Ever since the orphans' photographs were plastered across the front page of The Daily Punctilio
in an article falsely accusing them of murder, they have been on the run. Only when they disguise themselves as cheerful hospital volunteers (Volunteers Fighting Disease, to be exact), do they see a possible refuge. Of course, this backfires hideously. Where is their ineffectual guardian, Mr. Poe, when they need him most? Will the evil, greedy Count Olaf be successful in giving poor Violet a cranioectomy at the Heimlich Hospital? Is a heart-shaped balloon really better than water for a thirsty patient? Is no news really good news? As ever, Snicket refuses to comfort young readers with cozy answers and satisfying escapes. And, as ever, there are plenty of rusty blades and horrible plot twists to make us shudder and shameless-but-hilarious wordplay to make us grimace happily. Bring on the next one! (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Another roller coaster of perils for the three Baudelaire children. This time, they search for clues concerning their parents' deaths and attempt to clear themselves of a false murder charge while being pursued by the evil Count Olaf, who is after the family fortune. While attempting to escape arrest, the siblings join a volunteer group that sings and brings good cheer to patients and enter Heimlich Hospital, where they soon find themselves working in the Library of Records. A picture with an important clue surfaces just as Olaf's girlfriend discovers them and captures Violet, who is then readied for a cranioectomy, a surgery in which the head must be removed. The trio's talents are put to good use in a daring escape from the burning hospital. They jump into Olaf's car trunk in search of more clues and position themselves for the next exciting sequel. Readers will enjoy cheering for the clever youngsters, booing the diabolical villains, and noting the many new clues. The narrator's active voice is forever teasing readers by taking them to the edge of their seats and then purposely switching the subject or suggesting they stop reading all together. This volume can stand alone but few will be able to resist reading the next installment after the cliff-hanger ending.
Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH
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