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From Barnes & NobleFortunately for young readers, Lemony Snicket has dedicated his life to informing readers of all the misfortunes that plagued the three Baudelaire orphans -- the unluckiest children to ever live. In The Wide Window, the third book in the series, the Baudelaire children are sent to stay with a distant aunt who lives on a cliff's edge overhanging the aptly named Lake Lachrymose, a foreboding body of water serviced by the Fickle Ferry and filled with sharp-toothed leeches who have deadly appetites.
Of course, the tale wouldn't be complete without the presence of the evilly scheming Count Olaf and one or more of his twisted sidekicks trying to get their hands on the children, or more accurately, on the children's fortune. Once again Olaf is in disguise, though the children recognize him immediately thanks to his unibrow and the bright, evil shine in his eyes. The tell-tale eye tattoo on his ankle seems to be missing, however, since Olaf's disguise this time is as a peg-legged sea captain.
The childrens' newest guardian, Aunt Josephine, is a master of phobias and an expert on grammar. She's frightened of tons of things -- some of them reasonable, such as the deadly leeches in Lachrymose Lake who took the life of her husband, and some of them not so reasonable, such as her fear of using the telephone. One thing she isn't afraid of, however, is correcting improper grammar. And as the Baudelaire children get several impromptu lessons on proper usage, so do readers. In fact, it's Josephine's obsession with language that helps the children uncover Count Olaf's latest scheme.
These stories require a hefty suspension of belief on occasion, but that's part of what makes them so much fun. Illustrator Brett Helquist adds to the pleasure by bringing the characters to life in drawings that often exhibit touches of the same wry humor found in the narrator's voice. (Beth Amos)