A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
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.