Lemony Snicket had an unusual education which may or may not explain his ability to evade capture. He is the author of the 13 volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, several picture books including The Dark, and the books collectively titled All The Wrong Questions. Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Bedtime for Bear, which he also wrote, to the New York Times-bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket to the glorious picture book adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York. Michael Kupperman has done many illustrations for such publications as Fortune, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He frequently writes scripts for DC Comics. This is his first book.
Gr 5-8-This amusing fourth entry in Lemony Snicket's wildly popular series (HarperCollins, 2000) offers clever wordplay and intelligent self-referential humor, but suffers from a rather uneven narrator-the author himself. Lacking the melodramatic flair of the series' other sometime narrator Tim Curry, who reads Snicket's mock-Victorian, Edward Goreyesque adventures with demented glee, Snicket sounds more like a dour college student when relaying the unfortunate saga of the Baudelaire children. At times though, Snicket's gentle, understated approach actually enhances the story's more bizarre elements, and he excels at playing the bombastic adult authority figures. The Baudelaire siblings are on their way to the terrible town called Paltryville where they are forced to work in the extremely dangerous Lucky Smells Sawmill owned by a chain smoking tyrant. Many unpleasant events and accidents follow, and of course Count Olaf pops up (in disguise) hatching evil plans. As narrator, Snicket keeps the story moving in a brisk fashion-the tale is never dull. Although the Baudelaire children sound interchangeable, Snicket breaks into a hilarious Officer Friendly type voice when playing the adults. When portraying the narrator character, however, Snicket sounds like he cares about these children; he reads the tale with empathy and concern. Alas, the Lemony Snicket legend that the author has created in print is of a mysterious madman, a sad discredited recluse who dedicates himself to researching the Baudelaire children's history. As a narrator, Snicket sounds too sane, and this clashes with the fabricated narrator's weird mystique. The (uncredited) music by indie rocker Stephen Merritt adds a ghoulish sense of gloom. Libraries serving Snicket obsessed patrons will want this on their shelves, flaws and all.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.