- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
- Series: A Series of Unfortunate Adventures (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 162 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (August 25, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0064407667
- ISBN-13: 978-0064407663
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,757 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 25, 1999
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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
"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book." So cautions Snicket, the exceedingly well-mannered narrator of these two witty mock-gothic novels featuring the misadventures of 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus and infant Sunny Baudelaire. From the first, things look unfortunate indeed for the trio: a fire destroys their home, killing their parents along with it; the executor of their parents' estate, the obtuse Mr. Poe (with a son, Edgar), ignores whatever the children have to say; and their new guardian, Count Olaf, is determined to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. But by using their individual gifts (Violet's for inventing, Klaus's for reading and researching and baby Sunny's for biting) the three enterprising children thwart the Count's planAfor now. The author uses formal, Latinate language and intrusive commentary to hilarious effect, even for readers unfamiliar with the literary conventions he parodies. The peril in which he places the Baudelaires may be frightening (Count Olaf actually follows through on his threats of violence on several occasions), but the author paints the satire with such broad strokes that most readers will view it from a safe distance. Luckily for fans, the woes of the Baudelaires are far from over; readers eager for more misfortune can turn to The Reptile Room, for an even more suspenseful tale. Exquisitely detailed drawings of Gothic gargoyles and mischievous eyes echo the contents of this elegantly designed hardcover. Age 9-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The Bad Beginning
by. Lemony Snicket
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Book Length: 188 pages
Genre: Children, Children's Chapter, Middle School
It has been a while since I last read this book and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed returning to its pages. The most unique, intriguing, and frustrating aspect of the book is that the main character of the story could be argued to be the narrator. Everything is told through the voice of Lemony Snicket, which is actually the narrator and not the author's actual name. The style is not a typical style for most children's books and it is pulled off with success.
The writing style is amazing. You are pulled into the story, engage with all the characters, and before you know you have finished the tale. I almost went and immediately bought the next book. The only thing that stopped me was the huge pile of books I currently have to finish. It truly is no wonder that this series has obtained such success.
There is one aspect of the writing style that I found quite annoying. The narrator continually defined the words that he and the other characters were using. As the story progressed the other characters also begin defining the words that they were using. It was annoying because I am an adult reader who was well aware of what all these words meant. Yet, while I was quite engaged by the story the book was not written for me. It was written for middle school readers who are still increasing their vocabulary. The first time I encountered Snicket's unique way of defining words in a story I knew what he was doing. While I, as an adult reader, was slightly annoyed I was also kind of awed by his genius. He has this book that he doesn't want to dumb down for his readers, yet he also doesn't want to loose their interest as they encounter words they may not be familiar with. To decrease the frustration of reading by including the definitions into the quirky flow that already existed in the novel is nothing short of genius.
As reviewed on The Book Recluse Review.
I do have to admit some of the situations may be a little harsh for younger children and seeing as there are 13 books they might find it too long.
The Baudelaires Siblings. Violet, Klaus and Sunny live a happy live with their two parents in the Baudelaire Mansion, but one gloomy day their banker Mr.Poe informs them there has been a terrible fire that has taken their parents life. The Baudelaires now orphans move with their closest relative (in location not family bloodline) Count Olaf a wicked man with greedy intentions, getting the Baudelaire fortune.
Lemony Snickets mysterious ways and beautiful writing show in this book, as we take a plunge in the Baudelaires unfortunate live and the turmoil they go through living with Count Olaf.
Parents be aware that it does feature unfortunate events, as the title clearly states, but this parent feels that the children's never give up attitudes and constructive ways of dealing with their loss(es) is a good lesson which really cannot be conveyed without hardship and that this is a lesson best learned early and carefully when possible. I would prefer my kids understand from a fictional characters example that a good attitude and positive outlets for negative emotions are the best course of action before he/she experiences similar loss themselves so that my kids can better deal with the loss weather I am there to help or in the event that I'm not for whatever reason.
The way Mr. Snicket explains some higher level vocabulary and certain concepts such as dramatic irony(in book 2) is also a plus as is his tongue in cheek humor. He writes on a fifth grade level but, kinda like Spongebob, he puts some tidbits for adult brains in there too that you wont be embarrassed about when you child gets older and figures it out.
Most recent customer reviews
1: It had a steady pace. There was enough going on to pull you in and make you want to continue, but not so much to confuse...Read more