Lemony Snicket, the mysterious children’s biographer and narrator of the popular “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” is scheduled to visit Rockville’s Barnes & Noble on Oct. 16.
His latest endeavor, the children’s series, “All the Wrong Questions,” kicked off with a first entry, “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” in 2012. A second, “When Did You See Her Last?” follows Tuesday.
Snicket is believed to be visiting the store in person to discuss and sign copies of this latest chapter, recounting the second of four “wrong questions” regarding the search for a missing girl in a town by the sea.
Known for their wit, advanced vocabulary and calamitous events, Snicket’s stories are far from sugary or sentimental, nor do they condescend to children.
“Kids like him, because he doesn’t talk down to them,” said Annette Klause, a children’s librarian who buys books for the Montgomery County Public Libraries. “He trusts them to get the jokes and the attitude. He makes them feel like they’re in on the joke.”
The books also appeal to children who enjoy language and like playing with words.
“There are certain kids who gobble it up,” Klause said.
The Lemony Snicket stories take the view that things often go wrong in life and that it becomes necessary to persevere.
“[They] enable kids to put their own problems in perspective, compared to the heights of despair that the Baudelaire kids go through,” said Klause about the children in the first series who lose their parents and go live with a cousin, Olaf, who is after their inheritance.
The young characters aren’t rewarded for good behavior, but they should strive to do the right thing anyway, an interpretation that Daniel Handler, who writes under the Snicket pen name, agrees with.
“That holds true in life in general,” he said.
Handler set his first series of 13 books, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” in a Gothic-like world that featured Lemony Snicket as an older man recounting the adventures of the three orphaned Baudelaire children, who lost their parents in a fire.
The stories were made into a movie called “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events,” starring Jim Carrey as the Baudelaire’s relative Count Olaf, who continues to hound them for their inheritance, and Jude Law narrating as Snicket.
“All the Wrong Questions” goes back in time to find a 13-year-old Snicket living in the seaside town Stain’d-by-the-Sea.
“It’s been stained by the ink industry,” said Handler, who has created a film noir-like setting with dark streets, double-crossing characters, a stolen statue and a missing girl. An apprentice in a clandestine group called the V.F.C., Snicket sets out to find the girl.
The hardcover edition of “When Did You See Her Last?” sells for $16, audiobook editions are $23 and ebook editions $9.99, according to a release from Handler’s publisher Little, Brown and Company.
“There’s a chaperone, and other young people become involved,” said Handler about the new cast of characters and new set of adventures.
Could another movie be in the works?
“People have expressed interest,” Handler said.