This title contains 13 short stories from Lemony Snicket’s youthful time in Stain’d-by-the-Sea, a declining seaside town. While residing there with his indifferent mentor, Snicket solved mysteries such as a dog abduction, a case of stolen spoons, the cause of ghostly apparitions, and who was behind incidents of vandalism and theft. Written with his usual clever wordplay and accurate but lighthearted vocabulary definitions, the stories have just enough clues for the listeners figure out the culprits. The readers’ voices may sound familiar to parents and children who ride in NPR-listening cars: Sarah Vowell, Ira Glass, Terry Gross, and Rachel Maddow all maintain their distinctive tones while giving characters unique identities. And somehow, the Snicket character sounds uniform across all thirteen stories. The varied voices keep listeners’ interest, and every one of them is “in” on Snicket’s sly wit and dark humor. What other children’s book would contain an sledding joke about Ethan Frome? The end of each story is told at the end of the audiobook. This makes for awkward listening. Listeners have to choose either to remember all the cliffhangers and listen to the resolutions all at once, or to skip ahead in the tracks and find the appropriate ending. Flipping back and forth in a print book would be much simpler. But in a print version, there would not be the joy of hearing the molasses-slow baritone of Stephin Merritt read words by Lemony Snicket—a job for which Mr. Merritt is eminently suited. Ages 8–up. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014 Release date: 04/01/2014 Genre: Audio
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