FICTION

"Shouldn't You Be in School?"

"Shouldn't You Be in School?" illus. by Seth. 336p. (All the Wrong Questions: Bk. 3). Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $16.00. ISBN 9780316123068. LC 2014933203.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4–6—In this installment of series that precedes "A Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins), 13-year-old Lemony Snicket must work together with his incompetent chaperone to figure out who is burning down all of the buildings in the quaint town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Snicket is part of a special program, the V.F.D., and spends his days sleuthing with his chaperone, Theodora, in an attempt to catch the elusive and mysterious Hangfire, who is supposedly to blame for all of the mysterious happenings in Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Together, he and his friends must uncover the town's secrets and thwart Hanfire's attempt to burn down the library. But everything gets even more complicated when Hangfire manages to frame the librarian for arson, and Snicket is left questioning the trustworthiness of his friends. This series carries the same sarcastic charm of the "Unfortunate Events" books and will have young readers chuckling out loud. The characters are all fun and quirky in their own right, and the mystery is well developed and enticing. The illustrations add an extra dimension to the story, and the author does a fantastic job of incorporating mini vocabulary lessons into each chapter. Fans of Snicket's previous outings will devour the latest entry.—Candyce Pruitt-Goddard, Hartford Public Library, CT
In his third adventure, twelve-year-old Lemony Snicket, apprentice investigator, tackles a series of arsons in the economically depressed and mysterious town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Clues of the gray-matter sort (such as anagrams) combine with escapes, attacks, cliffhangers, and looming bad guys to keep the whole crazy plot buoyant. Film noir and children's literature references, from Patricia Highsmith to Beatrix Potter, support the good-natured satire.
In his third adventure, twelve-year-old Lemony Snicket, apprentice investigator, tackles a series of arsons in the economically depressed and highly mysterious town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea. Readers already hooked by this series will be pleased to check in with heroic librarian Qwerty, investigative journalist Moxie Mallahan, and the bickering Officers Mitchum and their bullying son, Stewart. New to the cast are a suspicious Department of Education representative and suspected arsonist Harold Limetta. (Ring a bell? The Third Man?) Bells are ringing all over this romp, with a veritable carillon of film noir and children's literature references, from Patricia Highsmith to Beatrix Potter. It's all in support of a good-natured satire of school, an experience one character describes as "the usual song and dance of teachers and homework and recess and gum stuck to the underside of the desks." As to the actual story, clues of the gray-matter sort (such as anagrams) combine with escapes, attacks, cliffhangers, and looming bad guys, keeping the whole crazy plot buoyant. Just. sarah ellis

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