A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that "Shouldn't You Be in School?" is the third of four books in the All the Wrong Questions series, set in the strange, faded town of Stain'd-by-the Sea. In this installment, apprentice Lemony Snicket, age "almost 13," and his adult chaperone are investigating a case of arson, which becomes multiple cases. Many of the town's children are kidnapped and forced to stay at a school where they're drugged with laudanum to stay docile and compliant. And narrator Snicket is punched, gets a cut lip, and is clubbed on the head twice and knocked out as he tries to figure out Hangfire's connection to the crimes.
What's the story?
Snicket and his chaperone are hired to investigate a case of arson, and a suspect is quickly apprehended, but Snicket knows he's innocent. When more fires keep happening, it's obvious that the young man in jail -- the librarian -- couldn't have done them. Snicket is sure Hangfire's behind them -- but why? Meanwhile, the town's children get kidnapped and taken to an academy where they're drugged with laudanum to remain docile and compliant. And Ellington Feint is mixed up in it all. Can he trust her? Can he rely on his loyal associates to save Stain'd-by-the Sea from villainy?
Is it any good?
There’s as much mystery, excitement, wit, and wordplay as ever. That said, Snicket is more contemplative and introspective here and engages in self-doubt, making him an even more complex, relatable hero. He regrets that he can't help his sister in the city (who's just been arrested) and is frustrated that he hasn't been able to find Ellington Feint's father or rid this strange town of fiendish Hangfire. But the loyalty and reliability of his new friends inspire him to push on and not give up.
There's no direct confrontation with Hangfire this time, and there are still lots of loose ends to tie up in Book 4, the final installment. But the rich characters and suspenseful plot in Book 3 still add up to a very satisfying and entertaining read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mysteries. What's fun about them? What makes a good one? Why do you think they're so popular with readers of all ages?
How do you think Shouldn't You Be in School? compares with the other two books in the series?
What do you think will happen in the next All the Wrong Questions series? Will Snicket defeat Hangfire? Will he reunite with his sister?
- Author: Lemony Snicket
- Illustrator: Seth
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publishers: Little, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 1, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our editors recommend
For kids who love mysteries
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.