The Barnes & Noble Review
The perils of the Baudelaire children continue unabated in The Ersatz Elevator, Book Six in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. These delightfully doomed siblings -- whose string of horrible luck began with a house fire that destroyed their belongings and left them orphaned -- continue their efforts to escape the clutches of their determinedly greedy and dastardly relative, Count Olaf.
After working their way through several potential guardians and surviving a boarding school debacle, the Baudelaire orphans -- 14-year-old Violet, 12-year-old Klaus, and baby Sunny -- are adopted by a wealthy couple who take them on primarily because orphans are currently considered "in" in a world that is highly subject to the dictates of fashion. When the children discover that their new guardians live in the penthouse suite at 667 Dark Avenue, they think maybe their luck is finally changing. But then they discover that the 71-bedroom apartment is on either the 48th or 84th floor, and because elevators aren't currently "in," they must climb the stairs to get there.
Then there's their new guardian, Esme Squalor, the city's sixth most important financial adviser and a cold, haughty woman whose primary concern is staying in vogue. Her husband, Jerome, is kindhearted and caring, but his determination to avoid an argument makes him a poor ally for the children. And of course there's yet another visit from the dreaded Count Olaf and his gang of cronies, who kidnapped the Baudelaire's only friends, the two Quagmire triplets, in the last book.
The humor in these tales is sly and dark and the action occasionally violent, but the slapstick silliness helps to keep the events safely nonthreatening. This time out, the fun factor is heightened by the addition of some puzzle-solving elements, as well as a few more hints about the author's life and the fate of the mysterious Beatrice. (Beth Amos)
The six installments of this highly popular recent series present their melodramatic yet humorous tales in a neat, old-fashioned format with decorative endpapers and apt illustrations. The three Baudelaire orphans, who find themselves with a new guardian in every book, repeatedly fend off the evil Count Olaf. This time, guardian Jerome Squalor means well, but his wife, Esme, is not to be trusted. Meanwhile, the three children are trying to rescue two of their young friends, who are being held captive by the Count. The narrator adds tongue-in-cheek humor to this sixth book about the Baudelaire orphans' dangerous escapades.
Kathleen Odean(Excerpted Review)
A Series of Unfortunate Events chronicles the perilous adventures of the Baudelaire children, thirteen-year-old Violet, twelve-year-old Klaus, and toddler Sunny. They were orphaned when their wealthy parents died in a tragic accident. Their parents' bank places them with a series of totally unsuitable guardians, from whom they must always make their escape. The evil Count Olaf lusts after their inheritance and continually tries to capture them. In every book in the series, he appears in a disguise that no adult can penetrate, yet the children always know it is he. In The Ersatz Elevator, the incompetent Mr. Poe takes the orphans to their latest guardians, Jerome and Esme Squalor, who live in the penthouse of a very tall building with no working elevator. The Squalors slavishly follow what is in style, and Esme is the city's sixth most important financial advisor. The children find that Olaf has disguised himself as Gunther, Esme's auctioneer, and they learn that he has brought two of the Quagmire triplets, Duncan and Isadoratheir third sibling died a few books backand is holding them captive at the bottom of the elevator shaft. Before the Baudelaires can rescue their friendsalso rich orphansOlaf takes them away and runs off with Esme, his former student. Books in this series are reminiscent of Victorian melodrama. They are full of anachronisms, and the people and events are completely outlandishreaders must suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. Younger teens with a lively sense of the ridiculous will appreciate the preposterous plots and predicaments, and older teens might enjoy the wordplay as evidenced in some of the characters' names. For others, asmall dose of Snicket will go a long way. Reading the books in orderbeginning with The Bad Beginning (HarperTrophy, 1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), and The Austere Academy (2000)is preferred, but one will not feel lost by starting with any. Libraries already owning the series in their children's departments will not need an additional set, except perhaps for larger facilities. Middle schools with generous budgets also might want to acquire the books. VOYA CODES:3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects;For the YA with a special interest in the subject;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, HarperCollins, 240p. PLB $8.95. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer:Kat KanVOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
Lemony Snicket appears to have depleted his inspiration in this, his Book the Sixth, of "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Or perhaps the long-running joke is merely running out of steam. Snicket spends pages nitpicking at words like "nervous" vs. "anxious," as is his usual wont. But the pseudonymous author's droll style is straining at the seams. The plot itself is equally strained. The Baudelaire orphans are adopted yet againthis time by a rich couple obsessed with style as opposed to rational living. Thus, as elevators are currently "out," the children spend most of the 259 pages trudging up and down an unknown number of flights of stairs (or the ersatz elevator itself) getting to and from their new apartment home. The only hopeful addition to the latest in the Baudelaire's saga is that baby Sunny has finally matured enough that her vocabulary has been graduated to a few realrather than ersatzwords. Could this slip signify that an end is in sight to the Baudelaire's tortures? This devoutly desired denouement is, alas, dubious. 2001, HarperCollins, $14.89 and $9.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
Gr 4-6-The resourceful, likable, but extremely unlucky orphans Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny continue to flee from the clutches of the fortune-hunting, disguise-wearing Count Olaf. Also, they need to discover the whereabouts of their kidnapped friends, Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, based on the puzzling clue "V.F.D." In Elevator, the three Baudelaires go to live in the penthouse of the trend-following Jerome and Esm Squalor, who adopt the children because orphans are "in." Despite the Baudelaires' resourcefulness, both Olaf and the Quagmires elude the grasp of the authorities due to the obtuseness of adults who, until it is too late, deny that terrible things can happen. In Village, the Baudelaires travel to V.F.D., a village that adopts the orphans based on the aphorism, "it takes a village to raise a child." They uncover the whereabouts of the Quagmires, but, as in the earlier books, they find neither respite nor peace from Count Olaf's machinations. Despite Snicket's artful turning of clich s on their well-worn heads, Elevator sometimes belabors the fallacy of fads at the expense of plot. Nonetheless, the satiric treatment of adults' insistence upon decorum at the expense of truth is simultaneously satisfying and unsettling, as are the deft slams at slant journalism in Village. Arch literary allusions enhance the stories for readers on different levels. Despite Snicket's perpetual caveats to "put this book down and pick up another one," the Baudelaires are dynamic characters who inspire loyalty to the inevitable end of the series.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.