Seven months shy of twenty years ago* I complained to some friends that my kids were reading books that I thought were too young for them. One friend suggested I buy a book, the first in a series, place it in a prominent location, and tell Clare and Andrew they should not read it because it was too advanced for them. He went on to explain that the book seems to be written at a grade school level, but is full of higher vocabulary (with embedded definitions by the author/narrator).
Shortly thereafter I bought The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket and placed it on the living room coffee table. When one of the kids asked about the book, I did as George instructed and told them that I bought it for myself and that I thought they were too young to understand it.
Of course I read the book first, and found it delightfully unusual. The kids, one at a time, stealthily picked up the book and read it too. I continued buying the books as they were published until we had a full set (plus an extra The Hostile Hospital for some reason).
I grew tired of the books after a while, they are very formulaic, but intentionally so. I’d read one, then not read another for a while — and eventually stopped after reading The Carnivorous Carnival.
When Netflix announced it was producing a television series based on A Series of Unfortunate Events I was interested, but when I learned that Neil Patrick Harris was playing Count Olaf, I knew I had to watch it, but I wanted to make sure I’d read books before it aired. I didn’t manage to finish them before the series aired, but did manage to finish each book before I watched the Netflix episodes that featured the events in the books. I started reading them again through our library’s ebooks (our hard copies disappeared with one of the kids once they left for college or life after college — although they both deny taking them). I finished The End at 5:00 this morning, having pretty much stayed up all night to do so.
Then after a few hours’ sleep I watched the last episode in the Netflix series.
It’s taken me nearly twenty years to finish a set of 13 books written for children. The mystery has been solved for me (who is Beatrice?), although I am still confused. I am sure the internet will explain it to me though.
*I might be misremembering this since the books would only have been published the month before the gathering in which I thought this conversation took place, so maybe it was more like eighteen years ago…