The Ersatz Elevator: Book the Sixth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The Ersatz Elevator: Book the Sixth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064408646
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/20/2001
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 27,295
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.01(d)
Lexile: 1110L (what's this?)
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.

Brett Helquist's celebrated art has graced books from the charming Bedtime for Bear, which he also wrote, to the New York Times–bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket to the glorious picture book adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. 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.


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

The book you are holding in your two hands right now -- assuming that you are, in fact, holding this book, and that you have only two hands -- is one of two books in the world that will show you the difference between the word "nervous" and the word "anxious." The other book, of course, is the dictionary, and if I were you I would read that book instead.

Like this book, the dictionary shows you that the word "nervous" means "worried about something" -- you might feel nervous, for instance, if you were served prune ice cream for dessert, because you would be worried that it would taste awful -- whereas the word "anxious" means "troubled by disturbing suspense," which you might feel if you were served a live alligator for dessert, because you would be troubled by the disturbing suspense about whether you would eat your dessert or it would eat you. But unlike this book, the dictionary also discusses words that are far more pleasant to contemplate. The word "bubble" is in the dictionary, for instance, as is the word "peacock," the word "vacation," and the words "the" "author's" "execution" "has" "been" "canceled," which make up a sentence that is always pleasant to hear. So if you were to read the dictionary, rather than this book, you could skip the parts about "nervous" and "anxious" and read about things that wouldn't keep you up all night long, weeping and tearing out your hair. But this book is not the dictionary, and if you were to skip the parts about "nervous" and "anxious" in this book, you would be skipping the most pleasant sections in the entire story. Nowhere in this book will you find the words "bubble," "peacock," "vacation," or, unfortunately for me, anything about an execution being canceled. Instead, I'm sorry to say, you will find the words "grief, "despair," and "woeful" as well as the phrases "dark passageway," "Count Olaf in disguise," and "the Baudelaire orphans were trapped," plus an assortment of miserable words and phrases that I cannot bring myself to write down. In short, reading a dictionary might make you feel nervous, because you would worry about finding it very boring, but reading this book will make you feel anxious, because you will be troubled by the disturbing suspense in which the Baudelaire orphans find themselves, and if I were you I would drop this book right out of your two or more hands and curl up with a dictionary instead, because all the miserable words I must use to describe these unfortunate events are about to reach your eyes.

"I imagine you must be nervous," Mr. Poe said. Mr. Poe was a banker who had been put in charge of the Baudelaire orphans following the death of their parents in a horrible fire. I am sorry to say that Mr. Poe had not done a very good job so far, and that the Baudelaires had learned that the only thing they could rely on with Mr. Poe was that he always had a cough. Sure enough, as soon as he finished his sentence, he took out his white handkerchief and coughed into it.

The flash of white cotton was practically the only thing the Baudelaire orphans could see. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny were standing with Mr. Poe in front of an enormous apartment building on Dark Avenue, a street in one of the fanciest districts in the city. Although Dark Avenue was just a few blocks away from where the Baudelaire mansion had been, the three children had never been in this neighborhood before, and they had assumed that the "dark" in Dark Avenue was simply a name and nothing more, the way a street named George Washington Boulevard does not necessarily indicate that George Washington lives there or the way Sixth Street has not been divided into six equal parts. But this afternoon the Baudelaires realized that Dark Avenue was more than a name. It was an appropriate description. Rather than streetlamps, placed at regular intervals along the sidewalk were enormous trees the likes of which the children had never seen before -- and which they could scarcely see now. High above a thick and prickly trunk, the branches of the trees drooped down like laundry hung out to dry, spreading their wide, flat leaves out in every direction, like a low, leafy ceiling over the Baudelaires' heads. This ceiling blocked out all the light from above, so even though it was the middle of the afternoon, the street looked as dark as evening -- if a bit greener. It was hardly a good way to make three orphans feel welcome as they approached their new home.

"You have nothing to be nervous about," Mr. Poe said, putting his handkerchief back in his pocket. "I realize some of your previous guardians have caused a little trouble, but I think Mr. and Mrs. Squalor will provide you with a proper home."

"We're not nervous," Violet said. "We're too anxious to be nervous."

"'Anxious' and 'nervous' mean the same thing," Mr. Poe said. "And what do you have to be anxious about, anyway?"

"Count Olaf, of course," Violet replied. Violet was fourteen, which made her the eldest Baudelaire child and the one who was most likely to speak up to adults. She was a superb inventor, and I am certain that if she had not been so anxious, she would have tied her hair up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes while she thought of an invention that could brighten up her surroundings.

"Count Olaf?" Mr. Poe said dismissively. "Don't worry about him. He'll never find you here."

The three children looked at one another and sighed. Count Olaf had been the first guardian Mr. Poe had found for the orphans, and he was a person as shady as Dark Avenue. He had one long eyebrow, a tattoo of an eye on his ankle, and two filthy hands that he hoped to use to snatch away the Baudelaire fortune that the orphans would inherit as soon as Violet came of age. The children had convinced Mr. Poe to remove them from Olaf's care, but since then the count had pursued them with a dogged determination, a phrase which here means "everywhere they went, thinking up treacherous schemes and wearing disguises to try to fool the three children."

"It's hard not to worry about Olaf," Klaus said, taking off his glasses to see if it was easier to look around the gloom without them, "because he has our compatriots in his clutches." Although Klaus, the middle Baudelaire, was only twelve, he had read so many books that he frequently used words like "compatriots," which is a fancy word for "friends." Klaus was referring to the Quagmire triplets, whom the Baudelaires had met while they were attending boarding school. Duncan Quagmire was a reporter, and was always writing down useful information in his notebook. Isadora Quagmire was a poet, and used her notebook to write poetry. The third triplet, Quigley, had died in a fire before the Baudelaire orphans had the opportunity to meet him, but the Baudelaires were certain that he would have been as good a friend as his siblings. Like the Baudelaires, the Quagmires were orphans, having lost their parents in the same fire that claimed their brother's life, and also like the Baudelaires, the Quagmires had been left an enormous fortune, in the form of the famous Quagmire sapphires, which were very rare and valuable jewels. But unlike the Baudelaires, they had not been able to escape Count Olaf's clutches. Just when the Quagmires had learned some terrible secret about Olaf, he had snatched them away, and since then the Baudelaires had been so worried that they had scarcely slept a wink. Whenever they closed their eyes, they saw only the long, black car that had whisked the Quagmires away, and they heard only the sound of their friends shrieking one fragment of the dreadful secret they had learned. "V.F.D.!" Duncan had screamed, just before the car raced away, and the Baudelaires tossed and turned, and worried for their friends, and wondered what in the world V.F.D. could stand for.

"You don't have to worry about the Quagmires, either," Mr. Poe said confidently. "At least, not for much longer. I don't know if you happened to read the Mulctuary Money Management newsletter, but I have some very good news about your friends."

"Gavu?" Sunny asked. Sunny was the youngest Baudelaire orphan, and the smallest, too. She was scarcely larger than a salami. This size was usual for her age, but she had four teeth that were larger and sharper than those of any other baby I have ever seen. Despite the maturity of her mouth, however, Sunny usually talked in a way most people found difficult to understand. By "Gavu," for instance, she meant something along the lines of "The Quagmires have been found and rescued?" and Violet was quick to translate so Mr. Poe would understand.

"Better than that," Mr. Poe said. "I have been promoted. I am now the bank's Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs. That means that I am in charge not only of your situation, but of the Quagmire situation as well. I promise you that I will concentrate a great deal of my energy on finding the Quagmires and returning them to safety, or my name isn't" -- ere Mr. Poe interrupted himself to cough once more into his handkerchief, and the Baudelaires waited patiently until he finished -- "Poe. Now, as soon as I drop you off here I am taking a three-week helicopter ride to a mountain peak where the Quagmires may have been spotted. It will be very difficult to reach me during that time, as the helicopter has no phone, but I will call you as soon as I get back with your young pals. Now, can you see the number on this building? It's hard for me to tell if we're at the right place."

"I think it says 667," Klaus said, squinting in the dim green light.

"Then we're here," Mr. Poe said. "Mr. and Mrs. Squalor live in the penthouse apartment of 667 Dark Avenue. I think the door is here."

"No, it's over here," said a high, scratchy voice out of the darkness. The Baudelaires jumped a little in surprise, and turned to see a man wearing a hat with a wide brim and a coat that was much too big for him. The coat sleeves hung over his hands, covering them completely, and the brim of his hat covered most of his face. He was so difficult to see that it was no wonder that the children hadn't spotted him earlier. "Most of our visitors find it hard to spot the door," the man said. "That's why they hired a doorman."

"Well, I'm glad they did," Mr. Poe said. "My name is Poe, and I have an appointment with Mr. and Mrs. Squalor to drop off their new children."

"Oh, yes," the doorman said. "They told me you were coming. Come on in."

The doorman opened the door of the building and showed them inside to a room that was as dark as the street. Instead of lights, there were only a few candles placed on the floor, and the children could scarcely tell whether it was a large room or a small room they were standing in.

"My, it's dark in here," Mr. Poe said. "Why don't you ask your employers to bring in a good strong halogen lamp?"

"We can't," the doorman replied. "Right now, dark is in."

"In what?" Violet asked.

"Just 'in,'" the doorman explained. "Around here, people decide whether something is in, which means it's stylish and appealing, or out, which means it's not. And it changes all the time. Why, just a couple of weeks ago, dark was out, and light was in, and you should have seen this neighborhood. You had to wear sunglasses all the time or you'd hurt your eyes."

"Dark is in, huh?" Mr. Poe said. "Wait until I tell my wife. In the meantime, could you show us where the elevator is? Mr. and Mrs. Squalor live in the penthouse apartment, and I don't want to walk all the way to the top floor."

"Well, I'm afraid you'll have to," the doorman said. "There's a pair of elevator doors right over there, but they won't be of any use to you."

"Is the elevator out of order?" Violet asked. "I'm very good with mechanical devices, and I'd be happy to take a look at it."

"That's a very kind and unusual offer," the doorman said. "But the elevator isn't out of order. It's just out. The neighborhood decided that elevators were out, so they had the elevator shut down. Stairs are in, though, so there's still a way to get to the penthouse. Let me show you."

The doorman led the way across the lobby, and the Baudelaire orphans peered up at a very long, curved staircase made of wood, with a metal banister that curved alongside. Every few steps, they could see, somebody had placed more candles, so the staircase looked like nothing more than curves of flickering lights, growing dimmer as the staircase went farther and farther up, until they could see nothing at all.

"I've never seen anything like this," Klaus said.

"It looks more like a cave than a staircase," Violet said.

"Pinse!" Sunny said, which meant something like "Or outer space!"

"It looks like a long walk to me," Mr. Poe said, frowning. He turned to the doorman. "How many floors up does this staircase go?"

The doorman's shoulders shrugged underneath his oversized coat. "I can't remember," he said. "I think it's forty-eight, but it might be eighty-four."

"I didn't know buildings could be that high," Klaus said.

"Well, whether it's forty-eight or eighty-four," Mr. Poe said, "I don't have time to walk you children all the way up. I'll miss my helicopter. You'll have to go up by yourselves, and tell Mr. and Mrs. Squalor that I send my regards."

"We have to walk up by ourselves?" Violet said.

"Just be glad you don't have any of your things with you," Mr. Poe said. "Mrs. Squalor said there was no reason to bring any of your old clothing, and I think it's because she wanted to save you the effort of dragging suitcases up all those stairs."

"You're not going to come with us?" Klaus asked.

"I simply don't have the time to accompany you," Mr. Poe said, "and that is that."

The Baudelaires looked at one another. The children knew, as I'm sure you know, that there is usually no reason to be afraid of the dark, but even if you are not particularly afraid of something, you might not want to get near it, and the orphans were a bit nervous about climbing all the way up to the penthouse without an adult walking beside them.

"If you're afraid of the dark," Mr. Poe said, "I suppose I could delay my search for the Quagmires, and take you to your new guardians."

"No, no," Klaus said quickly. "We're not afraid of the dark, and finding the Quagmires is much more important."

"Obog," Sunny said doubtfully.

"Just try to crawl as long as you can," Violet said to her sister, "and then Klaus and I will take turns carrying you. Good-bye, Mr. Poe."

"Good-bye, children," Mr. Poe said. "If there's any problem, remember you can always contact me or any of my associates at Mulctuary Money Management -- at least, as soon as I get off the helicopter."

"There's one good thing about this staircase," the doorman joked, starting to walk Mr. Poe back to the front door. "It's all uphill from here."

The Baudelaire orphans listened to the doorman's chuckles as he disappeared into the darkness, and they walked up the first few steps. As I'm sure you know, the expression "It's all uphill from here" has nothing to do with walking up stairs -- it merely means that things will get better in the future. The children had understood the joke, but they were too anxious to laugh. They were anxious about Count Olaf, who might find them any minute. They were anxious about the Quagmire triplets, whom they might never see again. And now, as they began to walk up the candlelit stairway, they were anxious about their new guardians. They tried to imagine what sort of people would live on such a dark street, in such a dark building, and at the top of either forty-eight or eighty-four flights of very dark stairs. They found it difficult to believe that things would get better in the future when they lived in such gloomy and poorly lit surroundings. Even though a long, upward climb awaited them, as the Baudelaire orphans started walking into the darkness, they were too anxious to believe it was all uphill from here.

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Ersatz Elevator 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 369 reviews.
katiemarieKE More than 1 year ago
the ersatz elevator is a sad tale abouut three orphans; Sunny, Klaus, and Violet. They keep switching guardians because of "Unfortunate Events" caused be Count Olaf. Who in my opinion symbolizes the troubles and obsticals the children have to overcome. This book is aa drama and action novel every child or teen should read. Count Olaf disqises himself as different characters to fool the gaurdians, which always works. And as of now the Baudelaires' guardians are two wealthy, snuudy, uncaring, people. They don't care what the orphans have to say so they THINK thier large penthouse is safe. The childrens' personalities and interests make the book worth reading. Sunny loves her biting skills and Klaus is a big reader and reasercher. Violet is a young inventer and the most couragous because she is eldest. They are all very intellegent, but can they outsmart the bad Count Olaf?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope that everybody loves this book as much as i do. This book is soo good. Lemony Snicket is a very talented author or a least i think so. I have also read other books by this great author and love them too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read the whole series, and i love it!!! Im eleven and love lemmoney snickets books. This book is full of surprises and adventure as the bauldalaire orphans track down rhe evil scheme of count olaf one more!!!!!! d;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This ws my favorite out of all of the books! I loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love the whole series they are just such a good series to read I WOULD RATE IT A++++++++++++ :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book ever but if you want to read it start with the first book then make your way up to this one the sixth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books i have ever read! It really draws you in. Lemony Snicket is a true artistic genius.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these books! You should totaly read not only this book but the whole series. My teacher introduced it to me and now whenever i have free time i read these
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Dark Avenue, and it's the sixth place they've been to since their parents died in a horrible fire. They've been to evil Count Olaf who haunts them in every book, very nice Uncle Monty, grammar freak Aunt Josephine, the mysterious Sir, and the latest, Vice Principal Nero, the horrible violinist. Read this book as the three Baudelaire orphans work to find their long lost friends, the true meaning of V.F.D., and much more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing interesting book that will make you jump out of your seat. Its so interesting and easy to finish because you just get so in to it. The suspense of it. The mysteries. Everything. Dont read this book until you have read the first book second book third book fourth book and fith book. Also lemony snicket has an autobiography but it doesnt make any sense until you have read all of the books. I got the autobiography and i was so confused. Some people are spoiler alerts and spoil the story but all i want to say is buy this book. Please. You wont regret it dont worry. I jumped up and down reading the first chapter :) you will love it so much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book beacause it really grabs my attention and pulls me away from whatever else I am doing and it seams to be saying READ ME. Sunny is my fave beacause she has amazing teeth that can help them out of traps. I also like her beacause she is the most courages of the three. Rating: A
Stavros Hadjivarnava More than 1 year ago
As in previous "Series of Unfortunate Events," the Baudelaires are introduced to their new guardians. At first glance, everything seems nice and smooth but as the story unfolds the element of surprise will strike the Baudelaire orphans. Count Olaf and his filthy crew will put their clever plan into action. Throughout this book, the Baudelaires are on a quest to find their kidnapped friends, the Quagmire triplets. In more detail, this book reveals the true identity of each main character. Violet Baudelaire, is a kind and smart 14-year-old girl with the unique skill of invetning things. Klaus Baudelaire whom is 12 years old, is a brilliant researcher that loves to to read books. Sunny Baudelaire, which is only a todddler no larger than a backapack. However her teeth are extremely sharp and throughout this boo,k she will help in crucial situations. Jerome Squalor, which is the guardian of the orphans is a coward that never argues; he is not much help to the orphans. Esmé Baudelaire is a filthy character that thinks too much of herself. As she is very selfis and mean she does not help the Baudelaires at all; in a key moment, she will surprise the Baudelaires like never before. I personally recommend this book to anyone as it is full of drama and action. Reading this book will cause the reader to keep flipping pages and keep on reading. With many good examples of life lessons, this book will lead the reader to learn something more than just reading the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book in the whole series.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author, Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). As we once again join the unlucky Baudelaire orphans, they are deposited by their banker, the constantly coughing Mr Poe, at 667 Dark Avenue, into the hands of their new guardians, Jerome and Esme Squalor. Esme is a rather forceful woman who is a dedicated follower of fashion, while Jerome never likes to argue, with anyone. Having already suffered the loss of their parents, the threat of marriage, slave labour, hypnosis, a terrible boarding school, and the murder of their Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine at the hands of the evil Count Olaf and his nefarious assistants, the siblings are ever-vigilant of his reappearance. Luckily these well-mannered and uncomplaining children are also very resourceful: Violet invents, Klaus researches and Sunny bites. Snicket’s tone throughout is apologetic, sincere and matter-of-fact as he relates the unfortunate events in the children’s lives; his imaginative and even surreptitiously educational style will hold much appeal for younger readers.  Snicket’s word and phrase definitions are often hilarious. This instalment sees the Baudelaires  climbing a lot of stairs (and occasionally sliding down bannisters), forced to wear ill-fitting pinstripe suits, drinking aqua martinis and parsley sodas, eating at Café Salmonella, climbing up and down a lift shaft, being thrown down a lift shaft, and improvising ropes and welding equipment, all the while worrying about their kidnapped friends, the Quagmire triplets. Count Olaf once again manages to fool the adults with a simple disguise involving a monocle, high boots and improper English. Sunny uses her teeth to save the day and surprises everyone by bidding at an auction. As always, the alliterative titles are delightful and Brett Helquist provides some wonderfully evocative illustrations. Where will the orphans end up next? Perhaps the seventh installment, The Vile Village, will shed light on their fate. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is so full of mystery and you never know what count olaf is the up for this time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always loved the unfortunate events series. I am curently on book 9, but wanting to check it out at a close library. Lemony Snicket is a fictional story mastermind when it comes to his wonderful tales of the bauldilare (forgive me if i spelt it wrong) orphens. He also has some autobiographies the i have yet read. But i will soon read about how he was like growing up. Read all of his unfortunate books, they will keep you from anything else you love to do. Especially if you has a sence of humer, advemture, drama, and sadness. This book would be in so many catagouries of just plain AWESOME!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing gr8
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing, i hope the rest of the series is the same. I have read all 1-5 and am almost done with six now. I suggest you read them in order, they will make more sense. I hope you have fun reading these amazing books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is full of shocks and surprises!The sixth book in the series is just filled with secrets, especially with the guardians! In this book, you will find out something very shocking that you wont find in any book!It has something to do with the female guardian that they will be staying with........
EmScape on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A decent 6th novel in the Series of Unfortunate Events. The plots become more outlandish as the series continues, but I suppose they would have to as few obvious ideas remain for putting the Beaudelaires in such dire straits. I enjoy the fact that a mystery is being revealed along the way that will hopefully be concluded at the end of the series. If the books were just the unfortunate events themselves, I may have quit reading some time ago.
readafew on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Ersatz Elevator is the 6th book in the Series of Unfortunate Events, the story of the Baudelaire children. We are now almost half way through the tortuous journey. Once again Poe has found a harbor to stow the Baudelaire's and this time with a kind, but spineless cousin to their mother and his wife. This book was one of the better books in the series to this point and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The vocabulary is continuing to expand and the Baudelaire's are learning from their mistakes in the past and are getting better at being proactive in dealing with the problems coming their way.
GBev2008 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
So far my favorite of the series...I had made up my mind to give up after Book The Third, but have since jumped back in and haven't regretted it. The formula is somewhat the same, but new twists have made the series pick up steam and become more interesting. (It is now becoming apparent that the Baudelaires and Count Olaf are somehow tied to the misfortunes of the author as the mysterious Beatrice has now been mentioned by a character in the story rather than just in passing by the narrator.)The plot has thickened...Where will this increasingly mysterious and entertaining series lead? (This Unfortunate Events series is not for grumps and literary snobs.)
sayang on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Just when things get a bit ¿normal¿ for the orphans (well, close to normal) when they were taken in by the wealthy Esme Squalor and her husband Jerome in their 71 bedroom penthouse at 667 Dark Avenue, the city where they were born. Here, the community takes the ¿in¿ things way too much and exaggerated to the extreme. They were close to find their new kidnapped friends, and they have an experienced of ¿sleeping with the enemy¿ as well. It¿s getting better folks!
hjjugovic on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Yet more bad things happen to the Baudelaires. I'm glad the children are becoming more suspiscious and learning from their past misfortunes. It's interesting how Snicket explores virtue by giving his adults such pathetic character flaws. There are also subtle layers of humor for those who are paying attention. Series is recommended.
absurd_bird on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth instalment in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The Baudelaire orphans are taken to 667 Dark Avenue, which is to be their new home. They now must stay with Jerome and Esme, in a ridiculously big apartment. There is a mysterious elevator that has been closed down, and the Baudelaire orphans soon discover a shocking secret in the dark depths of the shaft....Probably one of my favourite books in the series so far.