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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 (1,652 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

    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

    • 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: #14,679 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    202 of 217 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.
    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
    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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    26 of 28 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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    49 of 57 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?
    19 of 21 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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    22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A Fortunate Beginning for Great Reading March 19, 2001
    By A Customer
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    I purchased this book for my son (11). He gobbled it down in a day, and proceeded to books 2 and 3 in the next two days. I also read each of these books after he'd finished with them. The rapid series of unfortunate events makes this a real page-turner. I've heard no requests for extra TV time for the past three days. What better way to make reading a habit, vs. a forced exercise?
    I don't think these books are NEARLY as frightening as say, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. While they may not be appropriate for children 8 and under, I think children above that age can appreciate this kind of outlandish misfortune for what it is.
    Unlike other readers, I appreciated the author's explanations of unfamiliar words and phrases, and wish that more children's books would introduce unfamiliar vocabulary in this way. While this may be distracting for adults, and it's true that children could just as easily look the words up in a dictionary, how many children will actually stop to do so? My son was more likely to ask me the meaning of words after reading this book, vs. "barreling on through."
    Comment | 
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    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 2 days 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 8 days 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 14 days 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 18 days 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 22 days ago by kimberly McManus
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
    Great books!!
    Published 25 days ago by NIKKI COUSLAND
    5.0 out of 5 stars Good
    Love these books
    Published 1 month ago by Corine Amatulli
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    I don't often read children's books but this one was quite enjoyable.
    Published 1 month ago by Chad
    4.0 out of 5 stars Fun story for both the young and the old!
    I enjoyed the tale of the three Baudelaire children, and was on the brink of crying when (spoiler alert) they could not be adopted by Justice Strauss. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Notillia
    5.0 out of 5 stars i love it!
    i read this book in 3rd grade and now a freshmen in high school, i decided to re read the series! its amazing and is what really got me into reading.
    Published 1 month ago by kensley
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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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