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Fans of Lemony Snicket's wonderful Series of Unfortunate Events won't be surprised to find that in the sixth installment the three Baudelaire orphans' new home proves to be something of a mixed bag. As our ever sad but helpful narrator states, "Although 'a mixed bag' sometimes refers to a plastic bag that has been stirred in a bowl, more often it is used to describe a situation that has both good parts and bad parts. An afternoon at the movie theater, for instance, would be a mixed bag if your favorite movie were showing, but if you had to eat gravel instead of popcorn. A trip to the zoo would be a very mixed bag if the weather were beautiful, but all of the man-and woman-eating lions were running around loose." And so it is for the bad-luck Baudelaires. Their fancy new 71-bedroom home on 667 Dark Avenue is inhabited by Esmé Gigi Geniveve Squalor (the city's sixth most important financial advisor), and her kindly husband, Jerome, who doesn't like to argue. Esmé is obsessed by the trends du jour (orphans are "in"), and because elevators are "out," Sunny, Violet, and Klaus have to trudge up 66 flights of stairs to reach the Squalors' penthouse apartment. (Other unfortunate trends include pinstripe suits, aqueous martinis--water with a faint olive-y taste--parsley soda, and ocean decorations.)

As the book begins, the Baudelaires are not only frightened in anticipation of their next (inevitable) encounter with the evil, moneygrubbing Count Olaf but they are also mourning the disappearance of their dear new friends from The Austere Academy, the Quagmires. It doesn't take long for Olaf to show up in another of his horrific disguises... but if he is on Dark Avenue, what has he done with the Quagmires? Once again, the resourceful orphans use their unique talents (Violet's inventions, Klaus's research skills, and the infant Sunny's strong teeth) in a fruitless attempt to escape from terrible tragedy. Is there a gleam of hope for the orphans and their new friends? Most certainly not. The only thing we can really count on are more gloriously gloomy adventures in the seventh book, The Vile Village. (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson

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ISBN-10:  0064408647
ISBN-13:  978-0064408646
Author:  Lemony Snicket
Genre:  Children's Books, Teens
Publisher:  HarperCollins
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review by . December 01, 2008
In which the Baudelaires have the best adventure yet, with a plot twist that caught my breath and almost put a tear in my eye. These are books with children as the main characters, but aren't "just" kids books.    Read and enjoy. Followed by: The Vile Village
review by . September 07, 2006
Dear Reader,    The unfortunate Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, were last seen driving away from the horrible Prufrock Preparatory School where their dear friends, the Quagmire triplets, Duncan and Isadora, where kidnapped by Count Olaf all because they had helped the Baudelaire's. Fortunately, Mr. Poe finds a young couple willing to take in the three orphaned children: Jerome and Esme Squalor.    Jerome seems like a nice enough fellow. However, …
The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate
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