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The Bad Beginning (from A Series of Unfortunate Events)
By Lemony Snicket
Hardcover, 162 pages
Harper Trophy 1999
Reading level: Ages 9-12

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading another book.” Useful advice when it comes to the miserable adventures of the three Baudelaire children; Violet, Klaus and Sunny. If you think your life isn’t perfect, wait til you read about these three. When the story starts everything is peachy; a happy family, a beautiful mansion, a perfect life. But all that ends by page six, when a family friend, Mr. Poe, arrives to tell them that their parents have died, that the mansion has been burned to the ground and that they are about to start a new life with an endless assortment of sinister relatives. And then things get worse!

While you might think that this is the LAST book you want to look at this spring, in fact it’s lots of fun. The inventive talents of fourteen year old Violet, the intellect of twelve year old Klaus and the sharp teeth of tiny Sunny always seems to lead them away from the darkest of dangers. Sort of. Somehow things always manage to get worse. You see, their relative Count Olaf and his performing theatrical troupe have concocted a plan to get at the Baudelaire fortune by having Olaf marry the young Violet and then..., well I wouldn't want to give away the ending, although you already know that it isn't happy.

Their struggle with Count Olaf (the first of a succession of relatives and family “friends” who look after the children) is only the start of long series. So far, Lemony Snicket has published six books relating the adventures of the Baudelaire children. If you’re looking for something a little different, and fiendishly fun, then The Bad Beginning is the place to start. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Da Toon