The Bad Beginning: Book the First (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The Bad Beginning: Book the First (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061365331
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/22/2007
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Edition description: Multi-Voice Low Price 3 CDs
Pages: 3
Sales rank: 428,407
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lemony Snicket had an unusual education which may or may not explain his ability to evade capture. He is the author of the 13 volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, several picture books including The Dark, and the books collectively titled All The Wrong Questions.

Tim Curry has created a rich array of memorable characters for both the screen and stage, most notably the role of the scientist in the Broadway and film versions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's won Tony Award® nominations for his roles in My Favorite Year and The Pirates of Penzance.


Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.

Date of Birth:

February 28, 1970

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.


Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I'm sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.

Their misfortune began one day at Briny Beach. The three Baudelaire children lived with their parents in an enormous mansion at the heart of a dirty and busy city, and occasionally their parents gave them permission to take a rickety trolley-the word "rickety," you probably know, here means "unsteady" or "likely to collapse"-alone to the seashore, where they would spend the day as a sort of vacation as long as they were home for dinner. This particular morning it was gray and cloudy, which didn't bother the Baudelaire youngsters one bit. When it was hot and sunny, Briny Beach was crowded with tourists and it was impossible to find a good place to lay one's blanket. On gray and cloudy days, the Baudelaires had the beach to themselves to do what they liked.

Violet Baudelaire, the eldest, liked to skip rocks. Like most fourteen-year-olds, she was right-handed, so the rocks skipped farther across the murky water when Violet used her right hand than when she used her left. As she skipped rocks, she was looking out at the horizon and thinking about an invention she wanted to build. Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking hard, because her long hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a real knack for inventing and building strange devices, so her brain was often filled with images of pulleys, levers, and gears, and she never wanted to be distracted by something as trivial as her hair. This morning she was thinking about how to construct a device that could retrieve a rock after you had skipped it into the ocean.

Klaus Baudelaire, the middle child, and the only boy, liked to examine creatures in tidepools. Klaus was a little older than twelve and wore glasses, which made him look intelligent. He was intelligent. The Baudelaire parents had an enormous library in their mansion, a room filled with thousands of books on nearly every subject. Being only twelve, Klaus of course had not read all of the books in the Baudelaire library, but he had read a great many of them and had retained a lot of the information from his readings. He knew how to tell an alligator from a crocodile. He knew who killed Julius Caesar. And he knew much about the tiny, slimy animals found at Briny Beach, which he was examining now.

Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest, liked to bite things. She was an infant, and very small for her age, scarcely larger than a boot. What she lacked in size, however, she made up for with the size and sharpness of her four teeth. Sunny was at an age where one mostly speaks in a series of unintelligible shrieks. Except when she used the few actual words in her vocabulary, like "bottle," "mommy," and "bite," most people had trouble understanding what it was that Sunny was saying. For instance, this morning she was saying "Gack!" over and over, which probably meant, "Look at that mysterious figure emerging from the fog!"

Sure enough, in the distance along the misty shore of Briny Beach there could be seen a tall figure striding toward the Baudelaire children. Sunny had already been staring and shrieking at the figure for some time when Klaus looked up from the spiny crab he was examining, and saw it too. He reached over and touched Violet's arm, bringing her out of her inventing thoughts.

"Look at that," Klaus said, and pointed toward the figure. It was drawing closer, and the children could see a few details. It was about the size of an adult, except its head was tall, and rather square.

"What do you think it is?" Violet asked.

"I don't know," Klaus said, squinting at it, "but it seems to be moving right toward us."

"We're alone on the beach," Violet said, a little nervously. "There's nobody else it could be moving toward." She felt the slender, smooth stone in her left hand, which she had been about to try to skip as far as she could. She had a sudden thought to throw it at the figure, because it seemed so frightening.

"It only seems scary," Klaus said, as if reading his sister's thoughts, "because of all the mist."

This was true. As the figure reached them, the children saw with relief that it was not anybody frightening at all, but somebody they knew: Mr. Poe. Mr. Poe was a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire's whom the children had met many times at dinner parties. One of the things Violet, Klaus, and Sunny really liked about their parents was that they didn't send their children away when they had company over, but allowed them to join the adults at the dinner table and participate in the conversation as long as they helped clear the table. The children remembered Mr. Poe because he always had a cold and was constantly excusing himself from the table to have a fit of coughing in the next room.

Mr. Poe took off his top hat, which had made his head look large and square in the fog, and stood for a moment, coughing loudly into a white handkerchief. Violet and Klaus moved forward to shake his hand and say how do you do.

"How do you do?" said Violet.

"How do you do?" said Klaus.

"Odo yow!" said Sunny.

"Fine, thank you," said Mr. Poe, but he looked very sad. For a few seconds nobody said anything, and the children wondered what Mr. Poe was doing there at Briny Beach, when he should have been at the bank in the city, where he worked. He was not dressed for the beach.

"It's a nice day," Violet said finally, making conversation. Sunny made a noise that sounded like an angry bird, and Klaus picked her up and held her.

"Yes, it is a nice day," Mr. Poe said absently, staring out at the empty beach. "I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you children."

The three Baudelaire siblings looked at him. Violet, with some embarrassment, felt the stone in her left hand and was glad she had not thrown it at Mr. Poe.

"Your parents," Mr. Poe said, "have perished in a terrible fire."

The children didn't say anything.

"They perished," Mr. Poe said, "in a fire which destroyed the entire house. I'm very, very sorry to tell you this, my dears."

Violet took her eyes off Mr. Poe and stared out at the ocean. Mr. Poe had never called the Baudelaire children "my dears" before. She understood the words he was saying but thought he must be joking, playing a terrible joke on her and her brother and sister.

"'Perished,'" Mr. Poe said, "means 'killed.'"

"We know what the word 'perished' means," Klaus said, crossly. He did know what the word "perished" meant, but he was still having trouble understanding exactly what it was that Mr. Poe had said. It seemed to him that Mr. Poe must somehow have misspoken.

"The fire department arrived, of course," Mr. Poe said, "but they were too late. The entire house was engulfed in fire. It burned to the ground."

Klaus pictured all the books in the library, going up in flames. Now he'd never read all of them.Mr. Poe coughed several times into his handkerchief before continuing. "I was sent to retrieve you here, and to take you to my home, where you'll stay for some time while we figure things out. I am the executor of your parents' estate. That means I will be handling their enormous fortune and figuring out where you children will go. When Violet comes of age, the fortune will be yours, but the bank will take charge of it until you are old enough."

Although he said he was the executor, Violet felt like Mr. Poe was the executioner. He had simply walked down the beach to them and changed their lives forever.

"Come with me," Mr. Poe said, and held out his hand. In order to take it, Violet had to drop the stone she was holding. Klaus took Violet's other hand, and Sunny took Klaus's other hand, and in that manner the three Baudelaire children-the Baudelaire orphans, now-were led away from the beach and from their previous lives.

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Bad Beginning 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 713 reviews.
greeninoakpark More than 1 year ago
I bought the Lemony Snicket book 1 to get motivated to continue with my desire to write my own children's story. Surprisingly, I am hooked! I read through book one and couldn't wait to get book 2! I am now on the 4th in the series and look forward to reading each and every one! I won't miss a book! They are fun and great reading for ALL ages. So get started and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book even though I'm 39. I bought it for my 11 year old son and the cover didn't look too exciting to him. He had to have a book report book and this was the only one we had at home. I started reading the first page late one night and couldn't put it down. I read the first 3 chapters and finished it the next day. I was pretty good for a "kiddie" book. I'm ready to start the next one...the reptile room i believe it is.
Cinnamon-A More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It's about three brilliant kids who try to get away from their mean, evil relative. This is breath taking and a beautiful work of art.
LiteracyMaven More than 1 year ago
This book begins a long series that entices the reader at every turn. The characters are truly overblown and, therefore, incredibly fun to read about. It harks back to the 1930's movie serials with the heroes placed in the most threatening and in turn ridiculous situations. The beauty of the book is that while it is thrilling it is not gory or frightening in any real way. The book begins the chronicles of the three orphaned Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny,each with unusual skills, who would be right at home with the kids from the Addams family or the cartoons of Edward Gorey. They are trying survive so that they can find the out why their parents were killed. Every page is a high level language lesson. Words are used and then explained in context so the reader is exposed to incredible amounts of vocabulary in the most painless way possible. These books are a delight to read and so engaging that both girls and boys can't wait to read them. Even the author, Lemony Snicket, is part of the fun as the books are "mysteriously" written and given to Daniel Hendler to be share with the world. In the first book they are placed in the custody of their "Uncle" a nefarious character with a telltale tattoo on his ankle....and the fun begins. Do your child aged 9+ a favor and invite him or her into the world of Lemony Snicket.
huntertheman More than 1 year ago
Book Reveiw This book Unfortunate Events is a great book. It is written by Lemony Snicket. It is a fiction book and adventure book. I thinki this book is a good short book for 5 and 6 graders. It has 162 pages in it so, it is not a very long story. It is full of idea's from the baudelaire children. The name's of the baudelair's are Sunny, Klause, and Violet. I give this book a 5 star for it's rating. It has alot of adventure and when u start reading it you want to keep reading it. This book is about 3 children that's parent's died in a fire at there house. The 3 children, Klause, Sunny, and Violet are very smart children that know how to build very big and hard inventions, like building a raft to survive on water. The baudelair family only had 1 friend that would offer to watch the kids when there parents died. His name is Count Olaf. He is the most meanest person you will ever meet in your life. He hates the children but keeps them for only 1 reason. The children have to sleep in a room that is the size of a closet and no view of the city. They have to make there own food and drinks. Count Olaf has an evil crew and he is the leader.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
After already having seen the movie, I decided to invest in reading the books. Bk #1, THE BAD BEGINNING, only took me an hour to finish, and it was an enjoyable--if dark--read.

The Baudelaire children--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny--are left orphaned after a mysterious fire destroys their home and kills their parents. Taken into custody by Mr. Poe, the executor of their parent's estate, they learn that their parent's will states that they must be cared for by a relative. The closest relative, unbeknownest to the children, is Count Olaf, an actor and leader of a theatre troupe who lives in a dilapitated house on the other side of town.

Things, of course, only go from bad to worse after the children move into Count Olaf's home, which is strangely covered inside and out with drawings and representations of a strange-looking eye. Count Olaf even has a tattoo of the same image on his ankle. As the Count hatches a scheme to gain control of the Baudelaire fortune, which the children are not privy to until Violet comes of age, the children are alternately scared of their new "parent" and determined to find a way out of their dreadful situation.

I enjoyed this walk on the dark side, and plan on reading Book #2 in the series later today. That said, however, I think it depends on your child and his or her maturity as to whether this would be a good read for them or not. Although the reading material is suitable for around 8 years old and up, the book IS dark-natured, and might scare some children. If they've already seen the movie, they might be prepared for its darkness--if the movie depiction scared them, then hold off on the book for awhile.
caitlyn10 More than 1 year ago
Lemony Snickets is a good author of writing the Series of Unfortunate Events. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are three orphans who lost their parents in a fire that burned their whole mansion down to the ground. Then Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire experience their mom's first cousins brother's second cousins uncle and then there is the evil Count Olaf that made them do a whole bunch of bad chores and made them cook dinner for his acting troupe. It is a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At some point in life, we have problems that we have to face. For Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, this is where their tragedy begins. These children lost their parents in a terrible fire. Their house is completely destroyed. They have to live with Count Olaf. He is a mean, nasty, selfish person. He tries to make these children's lives miserable, and he will never stop until he does. As Mr. Poe takes the children away from him, Count Olaf wants to say a word to them. "I'll be back", he whispers slowly. Then he walks away into the fog.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Series of Unfortunate Events Talk about bad luck! The lives of Violet, Klause, and Sunny Baudelaire turn upside down when they receive news that their parents have died in a terrible fire. Mr. Poe, their new caretaker, sends them to live with a forgotten family member, Count Olaf. When they first meet him, they soon learn that he is after their million dollar fortune. I would highly recommend this book. Its full of exciting action.
moises-lover More than 1 year ago
thesse books are awesome. I love lemony sincket's writing he is great. I have read the entire series and i loved them all. I like how there's alway 13 chapters and there is 13 books because 13 is a unlucky number. the only thing i don't like is Sunny the baby is a little annoying she can't talk can't walk so she is a little pointless as a character but as the books go on she starts to talk and walk so she gets a more involed but she still doesnt understand what is going on in there life or anything else and there is no way that she remembers her parents. so over all great book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dani17 More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book I thought it looked interesting because there was an evil man on the cover. He looked like he was going to be very mean to three young children. The first sentence says it all. If you want a happy ending, this is not the book for you! This fiction book, by Lemony Snicket, takes place in a busy city on Briny Beach in a large mansion. The book is about three young children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny) that have recently lost their parents in a car accident. They are now in the foster care system. Mr. Poe was their temporary foster parent. He was following their parent's wishes, by trying to find a relative for the children to live with. One day he located their third or fourth cousin, Count Olaf. Count Olaf did not like children, but took them in for their fortune. My favorite character in this book was Justice Strauss. Justice was Count Olaf's neighbor. She was very nice and always gave the children snacks to eat. She let them help her in the garden and also let them borrow her library books. After reading the book, I was shocked! I could not believe all the things that happened in the book. I hated the ending because it left a huge cliff hanger about where the children now live. The book was not what I expected it to be. I really liked this book because it was exiting and will make your palms sweat. The adventure of trying to get Sunny out of the tower without any of Count Olaf's partners hearing anything was scary! I would recommend this book for ages 10-13 years old. This book will make you happy, sad, mad, excited, but mostly shocked. This book is definitely four stars out of five. You should check this book out!
paulaanweiler on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is the story of three orphans that are sent to live in the most unusal place with the most peculiar people. I love this book for its colorful, distintive use of words and out of the ordinary charaters.
ababe92 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This a book that begins a series of a very good story that i loved to read when i was a child. I recommend these book to children who are imaginative, and like adventures.
JeremyCarlson on LibraryThing 11 months ago
There are three Baudelaire kids. The oldest Baudelaire child is Violet. She loves to constantly think of new possible inventions that she could make. The second oldes Baudelaire child is Klause. Klause loves to read, read, and read. He knows basically every word in the dictionary. The youngest Baudelaire is Sunny. Sunny loves, and loves to bite things. She has very sharp teeth and does not know how to speak very clearly but the Baudelaire children always know what Sunny is saying. The Baudelaire children were on a beach one day and suddenly saw a friend of the family's, Mr. Poe. He had dreadful news that he had told the the Baudelaire children . Mr. Poe told them that their parents had died recently in a terrible fire. This just gets worse as their life goes on. Mr. Poe sends them to a relative or more like a third cousin. These children end up with a dreadful horrible relative name Count Olaf. Count Olaf treats them terrible and is very bad to the Baudelaire children, he is trying to steal the fortune of the Baudelaire children, that their parents had, once they died. It all comes out that Count Olaf has a terrible plan. He wants to perform a play and marry Violet. He just says it is a play, but really he wants it to be real. He wants it to be real so he can get a hold of the Baudelaire children's money.My opinion about this book is AWESOME! This book is very fascinating and depressing at the same time. But the author gives out a really good point. There are these three children who's parents had just died in a dreadful fire and they get stuck with a terrible relative that tries to steal their money. This shows how hard these children work for just happiness and what they used to have, and love. This all comes about in The Bad Beginning.
TadAD on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Despite its overwhelming popularity, this series just didn't click with me.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I watched the movie on a whim when sick one day and loved its quirky style so much that I had to go out and read the entire series as soon as possible. I absolutely love Snicket's dark humor, sarcastic tone, and other comic bits dropped here and there (for instance, I love that Sunny's babble often makes perfect sense with what she's meant to be saying). The three children are all clever with unique attributes, and the minor characters (including the villains) are all terribly interesting to in their own bizarre ways. The stories are always fairly action packed, making them quick and compelling reads. I'd highly recommend the entire series, but only for people with a taste for quirky or out of the ordinary works.
sszkutak on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This was a good read. For the younger audiences it has spectacular vocabulary lessons embedded into the plot and the characters while not overly developed are very nice.
KhangNguyen on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The bad beginning by lemony snicketThe first book in the series of unfortunate event introduces the Baudelaire children, violet, Klaus and sunny. How unlucky they are, their house gets burnt down killing their parent. Leaving them to live with their distant relative Count Olaf, who is a mean and nasty character throughout the book all he wants, is to get his hands on the children¿s fortune their parents left. It takes all the children intelligence to evade his wicked plans.This is amazing book because it¿s clever, funny, entertaining, imaginative and educational. The narrator of book use allot of difficult words, but takes to trouble to explain their meaning, there are three characters , Violet who liking inventing things, Klaus liking reading and sonny who bites things. The story takes disturbing and unhappy turns and readers with nervous disposition may become very anxious at crucial points. I can assurance that the children survive; readers can work that out that much for themselves because the book series by Lemony Snicket has 13 volumes. They also take great pleasure in book to educate themselves: their refusal to stop looking for ways to solve problems is admirable and their own strength and creativity. The story acknowledges the existence of terrible events and does not pretend that everything turns out for the best. Children who have themselves loss of parent might find reading this book can be quite comforting.Overall the whole series is great I definitely recommend giving at least the first one a read, then maybe then you might consider reading the whole series, for the first book it was such a excellent start for a amazing series .
KeRo0306 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is the beginning of a truly dreadful masterpiece. If you like stories about orphans who have to get through life with their sheer wits then this a book for you.
briannad84 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Second time reading this book and I still love it! I've only gotten as far as the third book in the series and am eager to finish all of them eventually to see how it does end. The movie was good but I wish they'd come out with the others in the same way, I liked how they combined the first few books. Love Snicket's (I can't recall his real name) work and would like to see what else he's come out with. Very creative man! Love the illustrations!
th11 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Great Start to a wonderful series!
heidilove on LibraryThing 11 months ago
wonderful started and conceived
misstery1 on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book (and series) is a wonderful addition to children's fiction. Vivid characters and perplexing challenges make the story come alive. Count Olaf is an excellent villain and everyone enjoys rooting that the Baudelaire orphans will escape his dastardly clutches and somehow find a stable home. Both children and adults enjoy the subtle humor and the outright silliness of the situations in which the Baudelaire orphans find themselves time and again. Certainly one to share with the whole family--read aloud is best!
alcrivello on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The beginning to the sad tale of the Bauldelaires' lives.
ankhet on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I personally have a hard time with this series, but am determined to get through it - mostly by repeating to myself "well, how do the orphans get out of it this time?"This is the first book, in which the Baudelaire children are orphaned (a word which here means "left on their own because their parents died in a horrible nasty house fire") and sent to live with the first closest (geographically, at least) relative in a string of them: Count Olaf.