Book Review · Children

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1

Genre: Children
Number of Pages: 77
Publication Date: May 8, 2007
Rating: 5-star-review out of 5
Themes: Loss, ‘Making Lemonade out of Lemons’

downloadViolet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have recently lost their parents. Saddened by this news, they realize that there is more bad news. They are forced to live with an uncaring and abominable distant relative – Count Olaf. Everything goes downhill from there…



When I was a teacher, I became well versed with Lemony Snicket. My students thrived on him and Roald Dahl for entertainment. Though different authors, the two have something in common – their unique way of presenting stories.

I’ve read one or two books by Lemony Snicket, but this is my first attempt of reading this odd little series, and I was pleasantly surprised. The writing style is different and a bit peculiar, but humorous enough to lighten some heavy topics that are brushed upon throughout the read.

For instance, Mr. Snicket clearly states right from the beginning that this book will not have a happy beginning, ending, and even not many happy moments in between. He also reminds readers a couple more times of the book’s unhappy ending. Some might find this off-putting, but I really enjoyed his little warnings.

It was well-written and incorporated several higher-level vocabulary words for children. Most times, Lemony Snicket ends up defining these uncommon words throughout the text, which I also liked. As an adult, I am all for children using context clues to learn new vocabulary and looking up words they don’t know. However, as a reader, sometimes I just want to read a good book and not have to constantly refer to a dictionary; it interrupts the reading flow.

In other words, let children enjoy a read where for once they don’t have to confused and/or frustrated with a new word. There are plenty of those around. Reading sometimes just needs to be fun!

I also enjoyed how the author allowed the three children in the story to use their wits and brains throughout. For instance, Violet enjoys to invent things by using everyday objects and that comes in handy. Klaus loves to learn through the use of books making him very well-read at the age of twelve, which is also handy. And even baby Sunny seems extremely intelligent by being able to read situations and appropriately react to them.

As a warning, there are some harsher topics brushed upon and/or discussed during this read that I would advise parents to be aware of: losing both parents, becoming orphans, adults drinking alcohol, a child gets struck across the face, threats, neglect, and a somewhat unhappy ending.

All together, these may seem like a lot, but none of them seem too scary or are discussed too deeply. If a child is upper elementary/early middle school, I believe he/she would be able to handle these topics, but may have some questions.

Overall, I enjoyed The Bad Beginning and plan on continuing the series as a fun, light read in between less fun books. Also, I am looking forward in giving the Netflix series a try!

Absolutely! To upper elementary and middle school students. Also, if you’re like me, adults who like a good children book and don’t mind somewhat dark/twisted sense of humor. 🙂

Click on the link(s) to see my review(s) of other book(s) in this series:

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