“People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto
We all experience some downs in life, but they are usually interspersed with some ups. For three orphans, life is just one unfortunate event after another. A Series of Unfortunate Events is a 13-book series that documents what happens to Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents die in a fire. Count Olaf follows them from guardian to guardian hoping to seize the fortune the children inherited.
I spent a month reading this series, along with my two oldest children. I enjoyed reading the series. They started reading first, but I quickly caught up and got ahead of them. They are getting close to the end of the series and it’s fun to see their guesses as to how it is going to finish.
Except for the first book (where their guardian is Count Olaf – read the review here), each book has the Baudelaire orphans amongst adults who have a serious flaw. The flaw is nothing more than an ordinary bad habit, such as being fearful of authority or not wanting to argue with people or being afraid of fire or only believing the best in people, but then taken to the extreme. Due to these extreme flaws, the adults prove to add to the misfortune of the children even when the adults mean to help. Amazingly, the children have the wherewithal to stick together and fend for themselves.
For me, the series ended with a lot of questions unanswered, but I think that’s part of the point of the whole story. I think the overall theme is about family and survival. For children, I think the intended audience is upper elementary and middle school age. The misfortunes that fall upon the children are so unbelievable that the style of writing is almost cartoonish. However, if a child has trouble separating reality from fiction, the book might be troublesome for them to read. Otherwise, I think children would enjoy this series, especially if they had someone else to talk to about what they are reading. There is also a lot of vocabulary defined in this book by the narrator where children will probably not even realize they are being taught the definitions of words.
Read this with your children if they read it and enjoy the journey together.