Author: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Rating: Not recommended
(no stars out of 3 possible, "D")
Audience: 4th graders and up
No review of children's pop literature would be complete without commenting on this widely and wildly followed series. The Baudelaire triplets have the extreme misfortune to be continuously (if unbelievably) pursued by their evil Uncle Olaf as he schemes to usurp their wealthy inheritance.
After reading 3 books i've come to the decision to not recommend the series. Many will disagree with me, and the series is not without merits, but on the whole I believe we can find better material for our kids.
I was bothered by the level of threatened violence, particularly in book #2, The Reptile Room. Uncle Olaf is, indeed, a malevolent presence frequently brandishing a knife and threatening the children. At one point he warns there will be "blood pouring down these stairs like a waterfall." He also commits 2 murders and swears ("damn") in the book. These behaviors are expected of a villain, of course, but I found it to be a bit over the top and wondered how it would evolve in the following 11 books.