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

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
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The least subtle book thus far in the series.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 14 reviews

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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.


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

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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 byDaniel L. July 31, 2020
Adult Written byMa Kenzie October 22, 2009

An okay book

This book was good but not one of my favorites.
Teen, 13 years old Written byYaBoiBILbo October 31, 2018


I started reading this book without reading the first 2 others at the start of the series.But I have watched the film and series,so I didn’t need to read the fi... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 16, 2014

The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events) book 3 REVIEW

After Count Olaf got away from the crime scene of Uncle Monty's murder, the Baudelaire orphans went to live with their Aunt Josephine in a resort town. Sin... Continue reading

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

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