I just read and enjoyed Frederica Mathewes-Green on the Lemony Snicket phenomenon. It’s been on my mind for a couple of days because on Saturday I took my oldest boy to see The Incredibles (which is excellent). Afterward, he said that he wanted to see the new Lemony Snicket movie as well, but only after we’d read the book. How often is it that a 7-year-old wants to read a book before seeing the movie? Eager to encourage him, we rushed over to the bookstore, bought a copy of A Bad Beginning, and started in. We’re only part of the way through, but I concur with Mathewes-Green: the prose style is masterful. I wasn’t at all sure this would be the case. By outward appearances, Lemony Snicket is a Harry Potter ripoff. I’m not necessarily against literary ripoffs, especially if they’re well done. But this book so far stands up pretty well in its own right. I’m still not entirely clear on the book’s major themes or morals, if any, but the writing is very sharp–and in a world with a lot of poorly written kid lit, that’s good enough for me.