Many years ago, my family was saved from endless hours of bickering by JRR Tolkein. Well, in truth it was the person reading JRR Tolkein—our introduction to the magic of audio books happened during our nonstop 14 hour car ride to Oklahoma, and I’ve been a proponent ever since.
So, as I suppose many of you are preparing to travel somewhere this month, I’m delighted to do for you what some kind soul did for my family many years ago. If you and your loved ones are buckling up and buckling down for a long long ride to grandma’s house, by all means take along any or all audio versions of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, as read by Tim Curry. Each book is about 2 hours long (give or take), and extremely enjoyable for adults and kids alike.
If you aren’t familiar with the series, here’s a brief synopsis (there’s 13 books in all, so I’ll skip over a lot…Snicket/Curry enthusiasts are welcome to add more in the comments, if they like): three siblings, collectively “the Baudelaire children,” are orphaned when their parents die mysteriously in a house fire. They are passed from one caretaker to another while, generally, they are pursued by a greedy and repulsive villain who is after their sizable inheritance. BUT. Despite this admittedly grim plot, the whole series remains very funny and intelligent—this is children’s literature on par with Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens, and/or Edward Gorey. The characters are delightful (or delightfully wicked, depending), and part of the fun is discovering how the Baudelaire children overcome all sorts of bizarre obstacles: Violet, the eldest, is a brilliant inventor; Klaus, the middle child, is a researcher with a sizeable vocabulary; the youngest, Sunny, enjoys biting things with her four astonishingly sharp teeth. Every last one of them is perfectly voiced in the audio by Mr. Curry.
To give you some idea of Mr. Snicket’s (aka Daniel Handler) sense of humor and the overall tone of the books, here’s his bio: “Lemony Snicket grew up near the sea and currently lives beneath it. To his horror and dismay, he has no wife or children, only enemies, associates, and the occasional loyal manservant. His trial has been delayed, so he is free to continue researching and recording the tragic tales of the Baudelaire orphans for HarperCollins.” I might add that it’s “Mr. Snicket” who narrates the series, and Tim Curry has mastered his deadpan delivery when he’s not busy perfectly imitating an evil Count or fang-toothed baby.
But, whatever you do or don’t decide to take with you, I wish all our library patrons (and/or blog readers) safe—and entertaining—travels.