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The Trouble Begins: A Box of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-3 (The Bad Beginning; The Reptile Room; The Wide Window) Hardcover – Box set, October 2, 2001
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Fans of Lemony Snicket and newcomers to his gleefully ghastly Series of Unfortunate Events will be elated to discover this boxed gift set of the first three books in hardcover: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window. While it's true that the events that unfold in 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, Charles Dickens, and Edward Gorey. After they get their paws on this boxed set, there is no question that young readers will want to read the continuing unlucky adventures of the three Baudelaire orphans. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
From the Back Cover
The first Series of Unfortunate Events gift/box-set of this New York Times best-selling series.
The set includes The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window.
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The authorial voice intrudes, commenting on events, and providing definitions of words. These are sometimes congruous to those usually found in dictionaries. They are occasionally not --- in which that incongruity is usually both a plot element, and the subject of further comment by the authorial voice. The introduction to the concept of "dramatic irony" in the second book of the package is memorably amusing as well as educational.
I suspect that, as children's books, these will be appreciated mostly by highly verbal and sensitive children, those who have the ability to see behind the text and grasp exactly how their leg is being pulled. For these children, these books will not only be amusing, but valuable: they are written in a literate style, ironically formal, and the author's intrusions introduce a fair number of interesting words. Appropriate adults will find entertainment here too: the literary allusions, the Baudelaires and Poes, add depth to the stories, and clues to the clued-in as to what is really happening here.
Children --- or adults --- who can't or won't follow the ironic premise of the series are less likely to enjoy these.
The three books are each divided into 13 chapters as one would imagine. Not so lengthy that you can't read two aloud in one night. It begins as one expects with the Baudelaires being thrown into the evil clutches of Count Olaf, who immediately starts his sinister plan to work with the help of his filthy assistants. The orphans gain some comfort from their next door neighbor, Judge Strauss, but as they soon learn adults aren't much help and they are forced to pry themselves free from the clutches of Olaf themselves.
Books 2 and 3 take Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine in turn. Hard to picture them as anyone other than Billy Connolly and Meryl Streep now. The two adventures once again find the orphans matching wits with Count Olaf as he takes on fiendish disguises which all too easily fool the adults, who once again prove no help at all to the orphans. Whereas in Book the Second we get a fantastical story of reptiles, mostly charming snakes, in Book the Third we get quite a little study in grammar that ultimately leads to poor Aunt Josphine's demise.
Mr. Poe is perhaps the most troublesome character in these tales as one would expect after being fooled each time he might wisen up a little, but sadly not, and the kids find themselves moving from one ill-fated adventure to another, all in good humor of course as not to give young readers too much fright.