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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 (1,656 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $6.99
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
This price was set by the publisher

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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

Books In This Series (13 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews 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

    • File Size: 1783 KB
    • Print Length: 188 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060283122
    • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (March 17, 2009)
    • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B000VYX8PE
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,439 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    204 of 220 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read October 19, 2003
    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.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    81 of 90 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A Most Unfortunate Family... May 1, 2000
    By A Customer
    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.
    Comment | 
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    26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book! January 2, 2000
    By A Customer
    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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    49 of 58 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.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for realists with a sense of humor May 21, 2001
    By A Customer
    If you are the type of person who blames everyone but yourself for the evils of the world, by all means DON'T read these books. However, if you have a healthy sense of reality and humor (or want to raise children who will!) then read and enjoy these delightful tales.
    Lemony Snicket writes for all those kids who know that adults aren't always on their side. His stories are funny, a little creepy and always interesting. The Baudelaire children are the best of what boy and girl heros in books should be and the adults, well, the adults might just be portrayed a little too accurately for some grown-ups to handle. As most children know, adults don't always do what's right, aren't always to be trusted and don't always believe what a child tells them. Reading some of the negative reviews here, some adults would prefer that children not know this. Silly grown-ups, your children already know far more than you understand.
    My daughter and I have read book the first and are rapidly demolishing book the second. They are smart books the way Roald Dahl books are smart. The author explains a lot of words or phrases, but not, in my opinion, in a "dumbing down" way. Many of the explainations are useful even for adults who know what the words already mean... for example, the explaination of "literal" vs. "figurative" in book the first.
    Enjoy the books and read them along with your kids. You'll be amazed at how much this writing stikes a chord with them!
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'm too old, but this really did not do it for me.
    I've wanted to read this series for so long. Maybe the anticipation was part of the reason that I didn't end up liking this book, I can't be sure. Read more
    Published 5 days ago by Ashley
    5.0 out of 5 stars What A Book!
    I absolutely adored The Bad Beginning - a fabulous introduction to the series and the perfect size to entertain the children it is aimed at. Read more
    Published 17 days ago by Dan Thompson, Author
    5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
    Read it you will love it. This is the best book ever, I love it and can't wait to read the whole series!😎😎😎
    Published 1 month ago by Lisa
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Nice merchant
    Published 1 month ago by mountain girl
    5.0 out of 5 stars It was a very good book and very interesting and it is my favorite...
    It was very good and mysterious and I could not put the book down and I read it all so fast I could not believe it
    Published 1 month ago by Betsy Jasinski
    5.0 out of 5 stars Of course its good.
    How can you not love this book. Err....I mean my kid loved it, read it to him every night.
    Published 1 month ago by James A. Brannan
    4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Things Happen to Good Children.
    In simpler times, some things were much more difficult.

    Violet, Klaus, and Sunny become orphans and have some trouble getting help when their new guardian, Count Olaf,... Read more
    Published 1 month ago by J. Marts
    3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book😃
    A very Good Book for kids 5+ it is not A Good Book if you don't like Bad Thing's Happening in Book's.
    Published 1 month ago by TYLER
    5.0 out of 5 stars dear adults who have no idea what they b talkin about
    ok so i recently read a review titled "not one of the greats" and the reviewers name was "klne (new york)" and they said that they read the whole series and hated... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by kimberly McManus
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
    Great books!!
    Published 2 months ago by NIKKI COUSLAND
    Search Customer Reviews

    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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