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A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning [Kindle Edition]

Lemony Snicket , Brett Helquist , Michael Kupperman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,584 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
You Save: $3.00 (43%)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

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.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Make no mistake. The Bad Beginning begins badly for the three Baudelaire children, and then gets worse. Their misfortunes begin one gray day on Briny Beach when Mr. Poe tells them that their parents perished in a fire that destroyed their whole house. "It is useless for me to describe to you how terrible Violet, Klaus, and even Sunny felt in the time that followed," laments the personable (occasionally pedantic) narrator, who tells the story as if his readers are gathered around an armchair on pillows. But of course what follows is dreadful. The children thought it was bad when the well-meaning Poes bought them grotesque-colored clothing that itched. But when they are ushered to the dilapidated doorstep of the miserable, thin, unshaven, shiny-eyed, money-grubbing Count Olaf, they know that they--and their family fortune--are in real trouble. Still, they could never have anticipated how much trouble. While it's true that the events that unfold in Lemony Snicket's novels are bleak, and things never turn out as you'd hope, these delightful, funny, linguistically playful books are reminiscent of Roald Dahl (remember James and the Giant Peach and his horrid spinster aunts), Charles Dickens (the orphaned Pip in Great Expectations without the mysterious benefactor), and Edward Gorey (The Gashlycrumb Tinies). There is no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures of the Baudelaire children in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

British actor Tim Curry, whose reputation for playing dastardly villain types precedes him, is terrific in this adaptation of the intentionally over-the-top, slightly scary tale of the Baudelaire orphans. As narrator/author Snicket, Curry relates the sad saga with pity and enlightenment sparked by dashes of humor. When the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny, learn that their parents have perished in a fire at the family mansion, the children's rocky course is set for misery and misadventure (enough to fill the projected 13 volumes of this clever book series). The executor of the Baudelaire parents' will and keeper of the family fortune, Mr. Poe, arranges for the orphans to live with a guardian, a creepy distant relative named Count Olaf. Nasty in more ways than one, Count Olaf mistreats the children, leading them to quickly discover that he only wants their money. After they unravel one of the count's more awful schemes, the children are eventually delivered from the situation, leading neatly into a sequel. Curry plays Olaf with an appropriately spooky whispering hiss and deserves extra kudos for his convincing portrayal of Poe's racking, sometimes phlegmy cough. As a bonus, the tape contains a hilarious interview between historian, critic and author Leonard S. Marcus and Daniel Handler (suspected to be the mysterious Lemony Snicket himself). An entertaining song called "Scream and Run Away," about Count Olaf, fittingly closes the proceedings. Ages 9-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
185 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read October 19, 2003
Format:Hardcover
I went back and forth about whether I should get this book to read with my 7 year old second grader. I kept telling myself I should wait till she was older, but found the book at a good price, so I bought it. I worried it would be too depressing and scary for her, but it did not turn out that way at all. The book is written from a narrators point of view, so the personal feelings of the characters are never fully exposed and explored. You know that the three orphans are sad about their parents death, but the book doesn't wallow in their grief and make it painful to read. If you can imagine Vincent Price reading the book, that tends to make it a little more lighthearted. The bad guy of the book, Count Olaf, is an awful brute who is outright cruel to the children at times, but again the book doesn't have the children suffering without end. Instead it makes them more resilient to foil the Counts plans and triumph over him. My daughter was EAGER to read these books. That was the best thing about it all. We have tried classics, Pippi Longstocking, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Charlottes Web, but as great as they are, they lack The Bad Beginnings level of excitement, mystery and wondering what will happen next. I enjoyed the book myself and will continue to read the rest of the series, in hopes they are as entertaining as this one. I can see if you have a very sensitive child, this would not be the book for them until they are older. Some kids my daughters age are scared of Harry Potter movies, so this book would be too much for them. If your youngster isn't living in a sheltered world where everything is wonderful and bad things don't happen, and they can understand the difference between a made up story and a real one, then they just might enjoy this new type of childrens adventure stories.
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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Most Unfortunate Family... May 1, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
If you like the part of Harry Potter when he's living under the stairs of the Dursley household, before the happy bit where he gets accepted to Wizard school, then you'll enjoy these books.
The Baudelaire orphans are nice and smart. But boy are they unlucky. The book opens with the Baudelaire parents dying in a fire and the orphans having to find a relative to look after them. Although there is a huge family fortune, they can't get it until Violet, the oldest at 14, turns 18. But this doesn't stop the dastardly (and there isn't really any other word to describe him) Count Olaf, a horrible and distant relative, and his nasty henchmen/women/things from trying to get their hands (or hooks) on it. And as far as Olaf is concerened, the Baudelaires are expendable, a word which here means "not needed after Count Olaf gets his hands on the money".
Just one word of warning--when the author says if you like cheerful books or happy endings, stop reading now, he means it. But if you like miserable scary books with unhappy endings, keep reading! And you'll learn lots of horrible words with depressing or unfortunate meanings as well.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too delicious! February 15, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I came to this series as a result of an interview with the author that I read in Publishers Weekly. Intrigued, I ordered the first three books. I loved them. They are purportedly children's books but the author has a wicked sense of humor, and includes references that only adults would recognize. (For example, two of the three children are named Sunny and Klaus. Gee, that makes me think about some real-life wicked goings-on.)
Aside from everything else, these children actually come alive; they're inventive, clever and resourceful. They also suffer at the hands of their wonderfully conceived evil uncle Count Olaf.
I've passed these books along to a number of children who gobbled them up as avidly as I did--which proves that a good book knows no age barriers. This series is pure pleasure.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book! January 2, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I'm in 5th grade and I thought the book is great. It felt like I was in the book and I was Baudelaire child. I read the book in one whole day because I couldn't stop. The next day I read the sequel. I recommend this book to all.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully Depressing April 4, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
These books are sure to capture the attention of any reader. They are both funny and well-written, with fast-moving plots and memorable characters. Believe the description, though. If depressing events fill you with dismay and may cause you to lock yourself away for days following your reading of this book, perhaps you'd better abstain. Otherwise, these books belong on bookshelves beside Harry Potter, A Little Princess, Oliver Twist, and the Narnia Chronicles. Of course bad things happen to orphans. That's the purpose of their existence in the world of books. Come on now. Isn't it refreshing to have an author be honest about it for once?
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
My 5th grade daughter and I looked forward to each evening when together we would enjoy this witty and very different book. Truly a book that must be shared and read out loud for its greatest effect! My daughter especially enjoyed how the author would introduce a more difficult vocabulary word and then explain its meaning in an interesting fashion. Though not a book for young children or those who scare easily, certainly a wonderful read for those who love surprise, irony and humor and not your typical, predictable endings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars love them all
one of my favorite series i read all of them and still to this day can't help but wonder if indeed real where are they now?
Published 4 hours ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Fortunately, I did not purchase this for "children"
Unfortunately, I found this to be very dark & depressing. Fortunately, I did not purchase this for "children". Read more
Published 18 hours ago by B. Giunta
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Yet Fascinating Book
I thoroughly enjoyed Lemony Snicket's "The Bad Beginning". First and foremost, it was a refreshingly quick and easy read. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I read this many years ago as a middle schooler and even as a college grad now this book was still a great amazing read.
Published 13 days ago by rbersoul
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book for most people
I enjoyed the book but I thought this was a little weird how it all when down. I don't want to spoil the book but if you like dreams coming true then this is not the book for you,... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Jeffrey M. Yeatman
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book
(Please note that this review came from my 12-year-old son who chose this book as his summer reading assignment. Read more
Published 13 days ago by NVRENUF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
the entire series is great
Published 17 days ago by john hemmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
That was a very good book but I felt very sad at the end...though it did say that the book was sad
Published 19 days ago by corrina
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book.
Published 19 days ago by Lisa Wanchisn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I like this book a lot because of the drama and interesting thing in it. i would recommend it to anyone who is in 5th grade or higher Thanks for this aweosme book Lemony Snicket! Read more
Published 20 days ago by Arya Marwaha
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More About the Author

Lemony Snicket claims he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lump of Coal.

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