A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that When Did You See Her Last? is the second book in the four-part All the Wrong Questions noir mystery series by Lemony Snicket, author of the 13-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events -- and alter ego of author Daniel Handler. This sequel is just as clever and suspenseful as Book 1, Who Could That Be at This Hour?, and the 12-year-old Snicket is even funnier and more playful in his dealings with the kids and adults in the strange town of Stain'd-by-the Sea. There's more menace than actual violence, but a girl is imprisoned and chained up (readers only see the bruises from her shackles once she's free); a girl is stabbed in the arm with a knife (readers see her only after the injury is inflicted); a car crashes into a building; and it's mentioned that a man suffered terrible burns from an explosion years before. A girl's parents are drugged with laudanum to incapacitate them, and one adult celebrates with champagne and another has a glass of wine, although neither is shown drinking. Readers learn two young characters are "sweethearts."
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What's the story?
The action picks up just where it left off in Who Could That Be at This Hour? Twelve-year-old Lemony Snicket is still in the strange, dilapidated town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, staying at the Lost Arms with his ditzy chaperone, S. Theodora Markson. They're hired to solve a new case: find the missing Cleo Knight, a young chemist who's working on a secret project -- but for whom? Things get confusing fast as she's sighted in different places at the same time. Theodora's quick to call the case closed, but Snicket is always several steps ahead of her as well as the town's bumbling police officers. He's constantly gathering clues and connecting the dots, which all lead back to the same evil man behind the trouble in the first book: Hangfire.
Is it any good?
This sequel is just as clever, entertaining, and full of mystery and wordplay as the series starter, Who Could That Be at This Hour? But here Snicket and readers get to know the kooky Stain'd-by-the-Sea residents better, learn about some of their relationships (including two young sweethearts), and learn more about the town's history and old feuds. There's also more playful interplay between Snicket and the kids and adults he encounters. With wry wit, he constantly foils the bickering husband-and-wife police officers, outsmarts his chaperone, figures out the deeper mystery behind the many bizarre developments, and makes friends along the way.
Amid the laughs, twists, and turns, the tension and danger mount, leading to a dramatic conclusion that simultaneously satisfies and sets the stage for the continued pursuit of a major bad guy. Also, there's still much to learn about the trouble Snicket's sister is in back in the city -- a mystery that weighs on him throughout the book and about which readers get only a few hints. Stylized illustrations by Seth once again add intrigue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mysteries. Why are they so popular with kids and grown-ups alike? What are some of your favorite mysteries you've read?
How does Lemony Snicket know the case is not solved when his chaperone thinks it is? What clues does he see that she misses?
How does When Did You See Her Last? compare with the first book in the All the Wrong Questions series, Who Could That Be at This Hour? Is it funnier? More mysterious?
- Author: Lemony Snicket
- Illustrator: Seth
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 15, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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