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Milan Patel
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BOOK REVIEW: THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

May 9, 2004

The Slippery Slope, Lemony Snicket’s 10th book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, literally begins when Violet and Klaus Baudelaire find themselves in an out-of-control caravan that is speeding down the Mortmain Mountains.

Readers familiar with the Baudelaires’ adventures know these orphans are no strangers to danger. However, this time the children can’t easily squeeze themselves out of harm’s way: Sunny, their baby sister, is enslaved by Count Olaf, an evil man who will do anything to get the Baudelaires’ fortune.

Violet, 14, Klaus, 13, and Sunny didn’t always spend their days dodging death. They once lived comfortable lives, until the terrible day when a fire burned down their family’s mansion. With both parents presumed dead, the orphaned Baudelaire children are passed from guardian to guardian. Something always goes wrong, and their caretakers either disappear or die.

In The Slippery Slope, the Baudelaires once again find themselves on their own. They are trying to discover the headquarters to V.F.D., a mysterious organization that their parents supposedly belonged to. Violet and Klaus are determined to find out why their parents were involved with V.F.D. and what its purpose is.

Getting involved with difficult schemes is something the Baudelaires frequently do, so Violet and Klaus covertly begin fact-finding. Along the way, several plot complications almost prevent them from reaching V.F.D. One of their biggest obstacles is Carmelita Spats, Violet and Klaus’s cruel former schoolmate. One abrasive encounter occurs when the Baudelaires seek refuge in a cave where Carmelita and some scouts are camped:

"We’re mountain travelers," Violet called from the entrance.

"We lost our way and ran into a swarm of snow gnats. Please let us rest here for a moment, while the smell of smoke scares them away, and then we’ll be on our way."

"Absolutely not!" replied Carmelita, who sounded even nastier than usual.

"This is where the Snow Scouts are camping, on their way to celebrate False Spring and crown me queen. We don’t want any cakesniffers spoiling our fun."

To outsmart the people and objects that stand in their way, the Baudelaires must rely - as usual - on clever disguises, Klaus’s book smarts and Violet’s inventions. The resulting adventurous antics make this story an exciting read.

Lemony Snicket, also known as Daniel Handler, writes this story in his trademark suspenseful way. In this tale, as well as in the other nine books, just when something good happens, Snicket surprises the reader with something else gone horribly wrong.

One striking aspect of this book and the entire series is the way Snicket introduces readers to new vocabulary words. For instance, he defines the word “xenial” by saying it means giving gifts to a stranger. By taking time to describe unfamiliar words, he helps the reader to know exactly what’s happening in the story.

Another special feature of this book is the illustrations. Brett Helquist begins every chapter with a drawing that foreshadows the Baudelaires’ next adventure. For example, in Chapter 7 the children are faced with a well-protected high-tech door. Helquist’s illustration shows Violet, Klaus and Sunny confronted by the situation: they feel it will be impossible to open the door without the code. Helquist’s illustration predicts the outcome: the Baudelaires find a way to open the door.

Despite the many positive aspects of The Slippery Slope, there is one thing the author could have done better. In my opinion, he should have been more direct with the story line instead of being sidetracked by many tangents. Although the events that happen to the Baudelaires are exciting and surprising, the overall pace of the book is slow. Even with this flaw, I would recommend The Slippery Slope to readers ages 9 and older who enjoy a good adventure.

 

copywrite May 9, 2004

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