A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" is the first book in the four-part All the Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket (the alter ego of author Daniel Handler). Fans of Snicket's 13-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events will delight in learning more about that series' mysterious adult narrator, who in this fictional memoir is just 12 years old. He proves very capable of solving a complex whodunit even though he's just an apprentice. The novel is noir in style and full of Snicket's trademark wordplay and literary allusions but contains little actual violence: A woman is gagged and left in a basement filling up with water, and another woman is gagged and tied to a bed in a room ransacked by a bad guy.
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What's the story?
Lemony Snicket is just shy of his 13th birthday when he gets in the car of a wild-haired woman who informs him that she'll be his chaperone, and he her apprentice in the shadowy secret organization that readers of Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events will recognize. Together they leave the city and drive to the strange and nearly deserted town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, where they set about solving the mystery of a stolen statue, encounter all sorts of odd characters, find few they can trust, and realize that evil is in the air.
Is it any good?
Fans of the 13-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events will be happy to devour "WHO COULD THAT BE AT THIS HOUR," the first book in a four-part Lemony Snicket series called All the Wrong Questions. Unlike in the previous series, the style of this fictional autobiographical account, narrated by Snicket, isn't gothic but noir -- a word that here means "full of lies, corruption, and almost no one the young protagonist -- or the reader -- can trust." And Snicket isn't a world-weary grown-up but a 12-year-old kid.
The atmospheric, stylized blue-black-and-white illustrations by Canadian illustrator Seth help set the mood and add to the fun. And there's plenty of Snicket's trademark worldplay, Dickensian character names, and literary allusions (including to his own Unfortunate Events series), as well. Readers will enjoy finding out what led Snicket to become the man he did.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes this mystery fun. Is it the spooky noir atmosphere? The oddball characters? Lemony Snicket's voice?
How does "Who Could That Be at This Hour?"" compare with the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events? Do you like it as much?
How is Lemony Snicket different from a typical kid detective?
- Author: Lemony Snicket
- Illustrator: Seth
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: October 23, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 261
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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