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Laurinburg Exchange

Lemony Snicket worthwhile series for junior readers

March 19, 2003

By Robert Busko

The next Harry Potter book is due out this June. The library is already taking requests for the book, which at 1,100 pages will challenge the most avid fan, even those of us adults who secretly read and savor the wonders of Hogwarts.

But there is another series worth telling your children about. If you have a 9-to-12-year-old that you have trouble getting to read, you should try the Lemony Snicket series of unfortunate events. These books are entertaining and use playful wording to tell the story in between 160 and 286 pages. They are easily read by young readers.

"The Bad Beginning," the first book in the series, was published in 1999. The book introduces the reader to the Baudelaire siblings -- Violet, Klaus and Sunny -- who experience a multitude of misfortunes. But donít worry, nothing serious happens to the children. The author uses tongue-in-cheek wording to draw the reader in. For example, the introduction to the third book, "The Wide Window," states:

"If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus and Sunny are kindhearted and quick witted, but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched and the one you are holding may be the worst of them all.

"If you havenít got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signaling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair."

Don't worry. The author is teasing the reader to read the book. Nothing drastic happens to the siblings ... unless you donít like cold cucumber soup. Other adventures include such misfortunes as a confusing map, a wooden plank, some very strange hats, a newspaper headline and an angry mob.

There are a total of nine books that make up this series. Each bookís title uses word play to set up the story. Other titles include "The Austere Academy," "The Carnivorous Carnival," "The Ersatz Elevator." "The Hostile Hospital," "The Miserable Mill" and "The Reptile Room." The books are fun to read and reading any one of them will probably lead to their demanding to read others ... a not-so-unfortunate event.

Harry Potterís adventures are great fun. Just remember that there are a lot of other fun books to read in the library, and the books featuring the Baudelaire siblings represent just a few of the great books in the library that have been written with children in mind.

The series by Lemony Snicket can be found in the juvenile fiction section and all have the call number JF/Snicket. Ask any of the staff and they can show you to the proper shelf.

Robert Busko is director of libraries for Scotland County Memorial Library.