13 Words

( 8 )

Overview

This book contains the following words:

Colors
Home
Little
Spiffy
Box
Mess
Icing
Friend
Chocolate
Ta-da
Beautiful
Swell
Excitement

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Based on an unlucky number of key words and authored by someone who takes pleasure in unfortunate events, this volume conjures a sense of foreboding. "Word Number 1: Bird" introduces the central character, and the accompanying illustration pictures a royal-blue bird perched on a linen tablecloth, in a yellow-and-pink dining room that might have been painted by Matisse. The bird's eye droops sadly, whereupon readers turn to "Word Number 2: Despondent" and "Word Number 3: Cake," an item that might alleviate a bird's ennui, at least temporarily. Despite ominous beginnings, the proceedings turn upbeat with the arrival of a chic "Word Number 4: Dog," who concocts witty diversions for the gloomy bird. Kalman's eccentric gouaches elevate the wintry mood; the dog, with his sly grin, resembles Kalman's Max, particularly when he tries on hats at "Word Number 9: Haberdashery." Sprinkled with additional vocab words like "spiffy" and featuring surreal landscapes in ice-cream hues, this word-association game recalls Kalman's solo productions. The conclusion, however, belongs to Snicket, because "the bird, to tell you the truth, is still a little despondent." All ages. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Readers young enough for picture books are unlikely to know Lemony Snicket from Daniel Handler's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," so the use of that penname for this volume is vaguely perplexing. Still, perhaps it will serve as a warning to parents who have older children in addition to picture bookreaders that this is likely to be (at least) slightly gloomy and a bit unusual. Surely, librarians will know to expect something out of the ordinary from this author. Namely, they should expect a story that includes words outside the typical elementary lexicon, such as "haberdashery," "panache," "mezzo-soprano," and "despondent." They should also expect an imaginative animal tale that breaks the mold and includes some odd characters, such as a bird, a dog, a gigantic baby, and a goat. Readers are advised singing the last pages of the book in their best faux-operatic voice will result in maximum fun. (Many children will join in.) Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Kirkus Reviews

"WORD NUMBER 1: Bird. / The bird sits on the table." A modest start, perhaps, but the gorgeous, Matisse-like, gelato-colored spread drips in mystery. The table legs, for example, are sprouting leaves. "WORD NUMBER 2: Despondent." Poor bird. She's now standing atop Mushy Peas, next to a Kafka book. Happily, she finds cake, which is WORD NUMBER 3. The story--and it is actually a winsome story of friendship--proceeds thus, with a Snicketian 13 words in all, including 4) dog (who wants to cheer up his feathered friend, probably with a hat); 5) busy; 6) convertible; 7) goat; 8) hat; 9) haberdashery; 10) scarlet; 11) baby; 12) panache; and 13) mezzo-soprano. Snicket and Kalman are perfectly matched here, both revelers in life's delicious (mmm... cake) details and things best left unexplained... such as why the bird has to paint 11 ladders in ten colors, why the scarlet-doored haberdashery's owner is a baby and why the bird never stops feeling despondent, despite her new hat that has so very much panache. This charming chef-d'oeuvre sings like a mezzo-soprano. (Picture book. 3-10)

ALA Booklist
“A book that pushes boundaries and demands such active participation on the part of both readers and listeners to connect language and images (and Kalman’s quirky artwork is a perfect fit, littered with fun details) is to be commended.”
Time Out New York Kids
“13 Words is a winning combination of Lemony Snicket’s wry narrative tone and Maira Kalman’s droll pictures.”
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—The 13 words that are the basis for this sophisticated picture book are "bird," "despondent," "cake," "dog," "busy," "convertible," "goat," "hat," "haberdashery," "scarlet," "baby," "panache," and "mezzo-soprano." Each word is listed at the top of the page spread where it is featured, and the story continues on. The despondent bird lives with the dog and the mezzo-soprano. The dog, in an effort to cheer up his friend, goes for a ride with the goat to the haberdashery to pick up a hat for the bird. Upon returning home with the gift, the dog tells the mezzo-soprano about their day, and she commences to sing out the plot of the book. While not standard picture-book fare, there are moments of silliness (the owner of the haberdashery is a baby) and joy (all kinds of cake). The artwork is trademark Kalman: playful, colorful, and filled with surprises. Best for one-on-one reading, 13 Words could also be used as a model for primary-grade children to write their own stories featuring a list of seemingly unrelated words.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061664656
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 368,395
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket is often despondent, mostly about his published research, which includes A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Composer Is Dead.

MAIRA KALMAN is an illustrator, author and designer who has written and illustrated a dozen children’s books, including Lemony Snicket’s 13 Words. Her artwork has been featured on the cover of The New Yorker, and she has been a visual columnist for The New York Times. She lives in New York City.

Biography

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end -- and, in the case of Lemony Snicket, all unfortunate things must come to an end, too. After seven years and thirteen episodes, the much beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events books are drawing to a close. At least, that's what Snicket's "handler" Daniel Handler says.

But before getting to what promises to be "the most unfortunate event of all," it is first necessary to familiarize oneself with the mysterious man who created a mega-selling series of children's novels pivoting on the premise of placing young people in peril. According to his autobiography Lemony Snicket: the Unauthorized Autobiography, Snicket "grew up near the sea and currently lives beneath it. To his horror and dismay, he has no wife or children, only enemies, associates, and the occasional loyal manservant. His trial has been delayed, so he is free to continue researching and recording the tragic tales of the Baudelaire orphans." Hmmm. Perhaps an autobiography purporting that it may or may not be true isn't the best place to begin.

Instead, let us focus on Daniel Handler, the man who might actually be responsible for composing the Series of Unfortunate Events books according to certain skeptics (which include Handler, himself). Daniel Handler has been asked many times why anyone would want to make a career of chronicling the ghastly trials of a trio of ill-fated orphans. "When I was young, my favorite stories were not the sort of children's books that are constantly being thrust at you when you're little," he explained in an audio essay on Barnes & Noble.com. "I didn't like books where people played on a sports team and won a bunch of games, or went to summer camp and had a wonderful time. I really liked a book where a witch might cut a child's head off or a pack of angry dogs might burst through a door and terrorize a family. So, I guess it should not be surprising that when I turned to children's literature I tried to think of all sorts of interesting things to happen to small children, and all of these things were pretty dreadful."

Handler has long made it clear that his wildly popular series would be limited to thirteen installments. The Penultimate Peril: Book the Twelfth finds the much-beleaguered Baudelaire orphans "enjoying" a family vacation at a menacing hotel, and Handler is wrapping up his saga with The End: Book the Thirteenth, which promises to tie up all remaining threads in the story in an undoubtedly exciting manner.

However, the conclusion of his series is no indication that Handler plans on bringing his writing career to an end. He has also written adult-targeted titles under his own name, including his latest, Adverbs: A Novel. This exploration of love, which Publishers Weekly deemed "lovely" and "lilting," may forgo the trademark Lemony Snicket wry morbidity, but Handler ensures readers that the book isn't without its own unfortunate events. "It's a fairly miserable story, as any story about love will be," he says. "People try to find love -- some of them find it, some of them don't, some of them have an unhappy time even if they do find it -- but it is considerably more cheerful than any of my so-called children's books."

Good To Know

Daniel Handler has a potentially embarrassing confession to make: he is an avowed accordion player. Handler says that when he told his parents about his decidedly uncool musical pursuits, they reacted "as if I had taken up heroin."

His interest in music does not end with the accordion. Close friend and leader of indie-rock band The Magnetic Fields Steven Merritt has written an original song for each audio book version of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Merritt and Handler will be releasing a CD of all 13 "dreadful" songs when the final installment of the series is published in late 2006. Handler also lent his accordion-laying talents to The Magnetic Fields' critically acclaimed album 69 Love Songs.

Handler's persistence may rival that of the never-say-die Baudelaire orphans. His first novel, The Basic Eight, was rejected 37 times before it was finally published.

He enjoys the work of novelist Haruki Murakami so much that Handler devoted an entire essay to the subject in the plainly and guilelessly entitled Village Voice review, "I Love Murakami."

According to a former high school classmate writing in the local paper, Handler was "voted not only Class Clown, but also Best Actor, Chatterbox, and Teacher's Pet."

A few fun facts from our interview with Handler:

"I can cook anything."

"I know one very good card trick."

"I auditioned for an enormous role in the film Gigli."

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    1. Also Known As:
      In some parts, people get to know him through his handler, Daniel Handler.
    2. Hometown:
      Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 28, 1970
    2. Place of Birth:
      Handler was born in San Francisco in 1970, and says Snicket's family has roots in a land that's now underwater.
    1. Education:
      Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

4 Star

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2012

    Good book

    Even though it is a little confusing it is a great book. If you are interested in Lemony Snicket you should read this book. You should also read A Series of Unfortunate Events!! Lemony snicket you rule!!!

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    Is it a good book

    ?????

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    My daughters favorite

    My daughter jusr finished kindergarten but even in pre k this was one of her complete favorite The editorial reviews will give you more details Definitely for Maira Kalman fans to read one on one with their littlest ones and a keeper for solo reading later on Too bad nook doesnt carry her Pete books

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    Huh?

    Is this good?is it a picture book? I love lemony snicket, but have never heard of this book

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    What is this!?

    Im confused. What is Lemony Snicket writing about now? Did anyone read this? Is it a picture book?

    1 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2014

    Lemony snicket is still at large.

    So is david handler.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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