"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket

"Who Could That Be at This Hour?" by Lemony Snicket, Art by Seth, 2012.

Although I am not especially a fan of Snicket's (pen name of Daniel Handler) other well known books, A Series of Unfortunate Events, I am not immune to them either, and I have to admit that this first book in his new series, All the Wrong Questions, made me laugh out loud. This story is about the mysterious earlier years of Snicket himself, who as a thirteen year old becomes an apprentice to one S. Theodora Markson, a chaperone ranked 52 out of 52 chaperones. Together they must solve the mystery of who stole the statue of the Bombinating Beast (a kind of shark like sea horse) and return it to its rightful owners. But is it even stolen?

Along the way, young Snicket meets many colorful characters, such as would be reporter Moxie Mallahan, Pip and Squeak, who together are able to drive a taxi for their family business, and Ellington Feint, who is trying to find her missing father. I especially enjoyed Dashiell Qwerty, the moth chasing, helpful sub-librarian. As Snicket passes secret messages via interlibrary loan request to someone waiting to meet him, Qwerty appears not to notice a thing, even when the request is for the book Be Very, Very Careful by the Belgian author Please.

Lemony Snicket continues to expand his readers vocabulary, by using a word and then explaining it, for example: "Your reticence is not appreciated,"Theodora said, breaking my sour silence. "'Reticence' is a word which here means not talking enough. Say something, Snicket." The story moves along with plenty of clever wordplay, silly encounters and amusing plot twists. My only complaint is that the story kind of disintegrates as it becomes clear that the mystery's answers lie in the next sequel (or the next?)

Seth's illustrations match the campy retro Noir feeling of the book, worked in shadowy black, blue and white. The author/illustrator photos are also fun, done in black and white with both men suited up and wearing fedoras. Snicket's face is turned away, as is only right for such a mysterious fellow.

It won't take much to sell Snicket's new series to a legion of admiring fans!

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