This week for Teen Book Talk, our reviewer has a review of a children’s book, The Grim Grotto (part of The Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Justin L., Teen Reviewer

grim grottoBook Title: The Grim Grotto

Author: Lemony Snicket

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2004

Targeted Audience: Around ages 9-14; people who have enjoyed other books in the Series of Unfortunate Events (i.e. The Bad Beginning )

Rating: 4 stars

Similar to the other 12 books of the Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket’s The Grim Grotto describes a part of the tragedy of the lives of the three Baudelaire siblings: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Violet, at age 14, is an inventor; Klaus, at age 12, is a researcher; and Sunny, the toddler, is a cook with very sharp teeth. The story begins at the Mortmain Mountains, with the three siblings riding on a toboggan down the treacherous Stricken Stream as the snow and ice melt with the arrival of False Spring. The trio are then rescued by Captain Widdershin’s submarine, the Queequeg , and meet Captain Widdershin and his crew, including his stepdaughter Fiona, a mycologist (mushroom specialist) and Phil, the cook. Together, these six heros track the elusive sugar bowl in search of the secrets of the organization V.F.D. and find themselves in the Gorgonian Grotto, where danger awaits…

Things I enjoy about Snicket’s The Grim Grotto include his unique plot, unique characters, and his unique way of storytelling. The characters, settings, and plot in general are very creative and differ greatly from the average fantasy/young adult book, giving the reader a sense of interest. Examples of his creative characters include a tapdancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian, a fashioncrazed woman in an octopus suit with a tagliatelle grande (a large noodle used as a whip), and a villain with a villainous laugh composed of sniggles, snaggles, and bizarre vocabulary. Though these characters seem to border the ridiculous, Snicket successfully ties them all together and creates an outoftheordinary plot. I also enjoyed Snicket’s storytelling. While most books stick to a single point of view (first, second, or third), Snicket switches between the three throughout the book many times. He uses the third point of view to narrate the story of the Baudelaires, and the first and second points of view are used to narrate the narrator’s personal history and
to warn the reader of the unpleasantness of the tragedy of the Bauderlaires’ lives. Snicket also ties in other topics into his story, a prominent topic in this one being the water cycle. I enjoyed very much Snicket’s creative characters, plot, and creative narration.

The one thing I did not like, however, was excessive description of relatively unrelated topics (this is the reason I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars). Snicket uses descriptions of subjects such as the water cycle to make the reader “yawn with boredom and forget about the troubles of the Baudelaires’s harrowing journey”. While this certainly is creative, I find it to be rather excessive and detracting from the main storyline. The more times Snicket uses this tactic, the more tedious I find it. This is the only major reason for my disliking the book; overall I still enjoyed this book and would both read it again and recommend it to others.