The Miserable Mill: Book the Fourth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

( 321 )

Overview

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log. The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform ...

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A Series of Unfortunate Events #4: The Miserable Mill

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Overview

I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log. The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons. I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Ages 10+

Accidents, evil plots, and general misfortune abound when, in their continuing search for a home, the Beaudelaire orphans are sent to live and work in a sinister lumber mill.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The world's unluckiest trio of children have their most perilous adventure yet in The Miserable Mill, the fourth book in Lemony Snicket's delightful tales of woe, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have yet to find a guardian they can live with and, after the disasters that occurred during their last living arrangement, they are now headed for a lumber mill in the town of Paltryville (most of the names used in these tales are as revealing as they are entertaining), located just beyond the gloomy, black Finite Forest.

Another misadventure is virtually guaranteed when the children arrive at the mill and discover an eye-shaped building (the eye being Count Olaf's signature symbol) located right next door. Supposedly the building is an eye clinic, but the children have their doubts. Life with their newest caretaker doesn't look very promising either, as the children are forced to work in the mill and bunk in a dormitory with the other employees, all of whom are paid in coupons. Then Klaus breaks his glasses and has to visit the eye clinic. He doesn't return for hours -- and then when he does, he acts very strangely.

Violet begins to suspect that Klaus has been hypnotized and her investigation of the eye clinic reveals Count Olaf in his latest disguise. It's one the children can see through easily, though they can't seem to convince any of the adults around them that the eye clinic receptionist named Shirley is actually Count Olaf. Only by using their singular strengths -- Violet's knack for inventing, Klaus's book smarts, and Sunny's T-Rex-like bite -- can they escape their latest horrible fate.

While many of the events that occur on these pages are indeed bleak, miserable, and unfortunate, the indomitable spirits of the Baudelaire children and Lemony Snicket's gleeful telling of their tale makes reading them irresistible. As a side benefit, there's also a marvelous education in linguistics hidden amidst the mishaps. (Beth Amos)

From The Critics
The Baudelaire children were orphaned when their parents were killed in a fire. Violet (14), Klaus (12) and, the infant, Sunny, are being sent to yet another place (#4) in the hopes of securing a permanent home. Each adventure has them being tracked by the dastardly Count Olaf and his cronies who want to swindle the children out of their substantial inheritance. The Miserable Mill was the Lucky Smells Lumbermill in the Finite Forest in Paltryville. The children live an unhappy existence. They have no breakfast, chewing gum for lunch, and a casserole for dinner. They must debark trees, saw planks, share the space of one bunk bed, and overcome adults who will not listen to them — because we all know that children "should be seen..." They find disaster and danger lurking everywhere. They just cannot win. The Miserable Mill is written in the style of Dahl and Dickens. Although the story is predictable, the narrator (Lemony Snicket) keeps young readers guessing and giggling. The Baudelaire children are upbeat, smart, lovely, and optimistic. Readers become optimistic all the while predicting (optimistically) success for them. This is the fourth of a series of events that chronicle the eventful mishaps of the children. Genre: Reviewer: Linda Broughton; Mobile, Alabama
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
The pseudonymous Snicket returns in fine fettle for "Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4." In this episode the three Baudelaire orphans are shipped off to labor like serfs in the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, being fed nothing but a stick of chewing gum for lunch, nasty casseroles for dinner--and always, always living in fear that their nemesis, the villainous Count Olaf, is lurking somewhere very near, about to pounce. It remains, however, irrelevant what gloom and doom actually descends upon these children while Snicket is the omniscient narrator in charge. His marvelous asides and play on words are what enliven these Victorian-style satires. It's unclear how many actual children there are out there who can follow Snicket's verbal swoops, but he's a joy to the literate adult. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr—Children's Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064407694
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events , #4
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 78,966
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.82 (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.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Roger, The Jolly Pirate, to the alarming New York Times bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events, to the cozy E. B. White Read-Aloud Award finalist bedtime for bear. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Michael Kupperman has done many illustrations for such publications as Fortune, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He frequently writes scripts for DC Comics. This is his first book.

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:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sometime during your life–in fact, very soon–you may find yourself reading a book, and you may notice that a book's first sentence can often tell you what sort of story your book contains. For instance, a book that began with the sentence "Once upon a time there was a family of cunning little chipmunks who lived in a hollow tree" would probably contain a story full of talking animals who get into all sorts of mischief. A book that began with the sentence "Emily sat down and looked at the stack of blueberry pancakes her mother had prepared for her, but she was too nervous about Camp Timbertops to eat a bite" would probably contain a story full of giggly girls who have a grand old time. And a book that began with the sentence "Gary smelled the leather of his brand-new catcher's mitt and waited impatiently for his best friend Larry to come around the corner" would probably contain a story full of sweaty boys who win some sort of trophy. And if you liked mischief, a grand old time, or trophies, you would know which book to read, and you could throw the rest of them away.

But this book begins with the sentence "The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get any better," and you should be able to tell that the story that follows will be very different from the story of Gary or Emily or the family of cunning little chipmunks. And this is for the simple reason that the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are very different from most people's lives, with the main differencebeing the amount of unhappiness, horror, and despair. The three children have no time to get into all sorts of mischief, because misery follows them wherever they go. They have not had a grand old time since their parents died in a terrible fire. And the only trophy they would win would be some sort of First Prize for Wretchedness. It is atrociously unfair, of course, that the Baudelaires have so many troubles, but that is the way the story goes. So now that I've told you that the first sentence will be "The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get any better," if you wish to avoid an unpleasant story you had best put this book down.

The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get any better. An announcement over a crackly loudspeaker had just told them that in a few minutes they would arrive in the town of Paltryville, where their new caretaker lived, and they couldn't help wondering who in the world would want to live in such dark and eerie countryside. Violet, who was fourteen and the eldest Baudelaire, looked out at the trees of the forest, which were very tall and had practically no branches, so they looked almost like metal pipes instead of trees. Violet was an inventor, and was always designing machines and devices in her head, with her hair tied up in a ribbon to help her think, and as she gazed out at the trees she began work on a mechanism that would allow you to climb to the top of any tree, even if it were completely bare. Klaus, who was twelve, looked down at the forest floor, which was covered in brown, patchy moss. Klaus liked to read more than anything else, and he tried to remember what he had read about Paltryville mosses and whether any of them were edible. And Sunny, who was just an infant, looked out at the smoky gray sky that hung over the forest like a damp sweater. Sunny had four sharp teeth, and biting things with them was what interested her most, and she was eager to see what there was available to bite in the area. But even as Violet began planning her invention, and Klaus thought of his moss research, and Sunny opened and closed her mouth as a prebiting exercise, the Finite Forest looked so uninspiring that they couldn't help wondering if their new home would really be a pleasant one.

"What a lovely forest!" Mr. Poe remarked, and coughed into a white handkerchief. Mr. Poe was a banker who had been in charge of managing the Baudelaire affairs since the fire, and I must tell you that he was not doing a very good job. His two main duties were finding the orphans a good home and protecting the enormous fortune that the children's parents had left behind, and so far each home had been a catastrophe, a word which here means "an utter disaster involving tragedy, deception, and Count Olaf." Count Olaf was a terrible man who wanted the Baudelaire fortune for himself, and tried every disgusting scheme he could think of to steal it. Time after time he had come very close to succeeding, and time after time the Baudelaire orphans had revealed his plan, and time after time he had escaped–and all Mr. Poe had ever done was cough. Now he was accompanying the children to Paltryville, and it pains me to tell you that once again Count Olaf would appear with yet another disgusting scheme, and that Mr. Poe would once again fail to do anything even remotely helpful. "What a lovely forest!" Mr. Poe said again, when he was done coughing. "I think you children will have a good home here. I hope you do, anyway, because I've just received a promotion at Mulctuary Money Management. I'm now the Vice President in Charge of Coins, and from now on I will be busier than ever. If anything goes wrong with you here, I will have to send you to boarding school until I have time to find you another home, so please be on your best behavior."

"Of course, Mr. Poe," Violet said, not adding that she and her siblings had always been on their best behavior but that it hadn't done them any good.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 321 )
Rating Distribution

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(200)

4 Star

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(38)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 324 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Sandra ( i dont know if this is where you put your name orrr )

    This book was indeed sad but i very much enjoyed it. Even if it is most sad of its kind it was not wasted time of mine reading it.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Great

    Great series

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Awesome!

    Love this book! This is a great series

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2011

    cool book

    this book is really cool if you like mystery

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Best books ever published

    I love this series if my friend did not tell me about these books i would miss all of the action my nook is low on battery power so i say one thing READ THIS SERIES

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Highly Reccomended for Baudelaire lovers!

    This book is a book that has described the 4th misfortune in the Baudelaire lives. It is really intersting and twisted! If you love lumbermills,Count Olaf's assitants' disguises,and Klaus being hypnotized over and over for a reason by his assitants, you have no other book to choose from!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2011

    i highly recommend

    I realy enjoy this book you real should read this series starting with book one and read them in order or you may get lost as to what is happening I read one and cant wait to read the next to find out what is going to happen to these kids next

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    ;)

    Loved it!!!!! :)

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 17, 2012

    Great series !! Be ready for an adventure !!

    Great !!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Good series!

    I've read the first second and third and cant wait to read this one

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Best book of th series.

    This book by far is my favorite.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2011

    Love it

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 19, 2011

    Book worm

    Luv it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    exceptional

    This book was a little better than the others, though it too had the same concept as the others. That is what mostly Made me very angry. This series is so repetetive. i just don't understand how people actually want to read this book more than once. its just so crazy, no offense to anybody.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    Olaf a chick this couldn't get funnyer

    Sir is SO mean who would make pore sunny work in mill and Olaf is a chick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & THERES MORE :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2013

    The Miserable Mill

    So far so good you all might want too read the other books in this serie thus one is the fourth book the first one has this evil guy named count Olaf and he tries to steal the Baudelair fortune he only way you can tell if it is him is if he has a tattoo on his left ankle he does have it covered in some of the books in one of them he has it covered woth powder in the other he has it covered with a fake peg leg un rhis one i have not gotten that far to see if he is in the boo or not whoch he probably will be or if he will be the caretaker or if he has it covered or not

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Book

    So awesome best book ever.did i tell you it was awesome

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2013

    Intel pentium 2 good book I like fringe

    Sad but touching.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Fxjccgjdgc

    BEST BOOK EVER FOR KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Love these book

    All of the book before this took me 2 day to fisinsh them because they are so good. But if you dont like sad books do read this one and the others there are some good part and happy parts

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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