The Wide Window: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
The Wide Window: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3 Book Poster Image
The least subtle book thus far in the series.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The children steal a sailboat from evil Olaf, then set out in a storm.

Violence

Though presented as farce, Olaf's violence is real. He pushes Aunt Josephine to her watery grave, for example, and menaces the children almost nonstop. Olaf's return, especially his confrontation with the children at sea, involving an attack by a school

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Snicket's ability to pile crisis upon catastrophe upon bum luck without the story collapsing under the weight of its relentless misfortune is brilliant, and a surefire attention-catcher.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMa Kenzie October 22, 2009

An okay book

This book was good but not one of my favorites.
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written bySuddenlySeymour April 9, 2008

Hilarious!

I am a HUGE Lemony Snicket fan and I DEFINETELY recommend this book, it is hilarious, but a little bit predictable.
Kid, 9 years old June 4, 2014

What's the story?

Welcome back the luckless Baudelaire brood, three orphans who all too often feel "the chill of doom fall over their hearts." Lemony Snicket's highly polished and tragically comic series finds the children once again frustrating the awful Olaf's schemes to steal their fortune, after he has cruelly dealt with their latest ill-qualified caregiver.

Is it any good?

This is the least subtle book thus far in Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Rather than let ideas of right and wrong quietly percolate up through his story, as he has in the previous two volumes, he spells them out as though his audience is dimwitted. "They understood that Aunt Josephine was more concerned with grammatical mistakes than with saving the lives of three children. They understood that she was so wrapped up in her own fears that she had not given a thought to what might have happened to them." Snicket gets preachy and his readers get a lecture.

Nevertheless, THE WIDE WINDOW has plenty going for it, including some of the most exciting scenes in the series so far. High drama is produced by a small sailboat in the middle of a hurricane, a gratifying example of code-breaking, a heart-stopping attack by a swarm of leeches, and the treacherous plots hatched by Olaf that must be artfully countered one after the other by the children. And there is the pleasingly black humor that is Snicket's earmark, served up by the grave narrator.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about tone and the darkly humorous appeal of the books in the series. Why do readers find the adventures of the Baudelaire orphans funny although they're constantly plagued by misfortune?

Book details

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate