Poison for Breakfast

Liveright/Norton/. Aug. 2021. 176p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781324090625.
Gr 4 Up–Snicket’s latest opens with the author’s assertion that it is a book about bewilderment. Writing in the first person, he shares in the first chapter that after having breakfast one morning, he discovers a note under his door that reads, “You had poison for breakfast.” This discovery leads him on a search for what may have poisoned him, and he investigates the sources of each of his breakfast’s ingredients. He describes his stops at the tea shop, the beekeeper, the seashore, the supermarket, the park, and (happily) the library, and along the way, he chases his thoughts as far as they will go down roads of philosophy, memory, literature, and imagination. The narrative is full of Snicket’s trademark clever whimsy; it is so clever, in fact, that it almost distracts readers from the fact that the story line contains very little action. The claim of bewilderment is accurate, but it is the sort of pleasant bewilderment that comes from letting your mind wander down unfamiliar paths. Back matter includes notes about books and people mentioned in each chapter.
VERDICT Steadfast fans of Lemony Snicket will surely be pleased with this new entry into his canon, but others may find it a bit too cerebral.

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