Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Austere Academy - Lemony Snicket

The Austere Academy
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Fifth
Lemony Snicket

Young Adult

Note: The best thing to do is start reading about the Baudelaire children’s terrible and sad adventures at THE BAD BEGINNING. If you haven’t read the previous books, this review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

After their very unhappy time at the Lucky Smells Lumberyard in the previous book, the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny, are low on options. So Mr. Poe, who takes care of the fortune that will come to them when Violet is of age (and, it is to be hoped, is taking better care of that fortune than he is of the children) takes the three to Prufrock Preparatory School. While the Baudelaires are happy to return to school and socialize with people their own age, they’re not encouraged when the see the school. For one thing, the buildings are all shaped like tombstones.

Then they meet Vice Principal Nero, who believes he’s a genius at playing the violin, but is really quite terrible. He also has a nasty habit of mimicking other people. He tells the children about the nice dorms with a living room, lending library, and fresh fruit. Then he tells them that, since they have no parents to sign permission slips, they’ll be living in a tin shack. And, since Sunny is a baby and there are no classes for babies, she’ll have to work for him as a secretary, answering phones and doing paperwork. The bright spot in all this is that the orphans do make friends. Duncan and Isadora Quagmire are orphans, too. They spent several semesters in the Orphan Shack, and offer advice on how to deal with the general nastiness of the place. Then, the new gym teacher, Coach Genghis arrives. It should come as no surprise that Coach Genghis, despite his attempted disguise, is none other than the odious Count Olaf.

It’s very nice to see the Baudelaire children go to school and make a few friends. But, as everyone reading this series knows, bad things follow the Baudelaires. And, of course, Count Olaf follows them, too. Once again, there’s sadness, the metric system, generally unhappy events, a horrible little girl named Carmelita Spats, and lots of interesting new words.

Rating: 8
ISBN# 0-06-4408363-9 (hardcover)


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